Opinion

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I derive enjoyment from point-to-pointing on a weekly basis for more than 30 weeks a year. So, where possible, I try to give something back.

As a rider representative for the west region on the Point-to-Point Owners and Riders Association (PPORA) committee, I attend quarterly meetings with other rider and owner representatives from around the country to discuss all matters important to pointing.

These are then fed back into associated organisations such as the Point-to-Point Authority (PPA), British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and others in the hope of triggering improvement.

All attendees at the meeting are there for no financial reward — many have travelled hundreds of miles. At our most recent gathering this month we covered more ground than a horse hanging right-handed in the Grand National and addressed more elephants in the room than you will see on a day trip to Longleat. The meeting lasted the best part of six hours.

Declining trend

The sport continues to face challenging times. The number of hunter certificates issued this season is down 8% on last year (2,232 as of 16 April) and the number of riders’ qualification certificates is down 12% (to 493). These numbers have been exacerbated by the torrid weather which has put paid to 31 meetings, but nevertheless the declining trend is a growing concern.

In my mind, the downturn in numbers has an uneasy correlation with the upturn in “bureaucracy”. Much of this is outside of the control of the bodies which drive our sport. From the incoming General Data Protection Regulation impacting how we publicise point-to-pointing to impending new body protector standards, which will necessitate replacement kit — meaning more cost for young riders. The number of factors which have an influence are extensive.

To get off the slippery slope, we need to look at ways of minimising the impact of bureaucracy — and fast.

Ref Horse & Hound; 17 May 2018