I was interested to read (H&H, 12 December) that Berties Dream, a winner at the recent Point-to-Point Owners & Riders Club meeting and one of the best horses to run thus far, is to remain primarily in the point-to-point sphere this season.
He was a former high class hurdler, and his now trainer Lauren Braithwaite highlighted the horse’s distaste of larger fences as the main reason following on from his mid-division finish in the CGA Foxhunter at last season’s Cheltenham Festival.
While some people may see this as a waste of a talented horse, I can understand Lauren’s logic, because not all horses have the appetite for hunter chases.
The expression “big fish in a small pond” is often used in pointing and racing circles. Berties Dream would undoubtedly be one of those, as would Lucette Annie, on whom I finished one place ahead in the Foxhunter. A diminutive mare, she was branded a “big fish” in the now-defunct “bible” — Pointing 2014.
I have no doubt Lucette Annie’s heart is as big, if not bigger, than those of most thoroughbreds. She is also as quick, if not quicker, over a fence than any horse around, but her small frame and flat feet mean she too has struggled to translate her point-to-point form to hunter chases.
While she has won a hunter chase and been placed around Cheltenham over fences, the extra three to four inches of birch height coupled with added solidity make jumping regulation fences that much more of an effort. Multiply that by 18 or 20 and the precision and sheer determination that sets her apart from other open point-to-point horses is lost and she becomes an ordinary hunter chaser.
Point-to-points offer that happy medium that is not always available under Rules. The slower pace and less strenuous fences often make for a kinder introduction to the racing world for young horses and can set them en route to future stardom, while they present a more enjoyable option to older horses coming back from racing under Rules.
Ref: H&H 18 December, 2014