The removal of the obligation for point-to-point horses to appear in the hunting field was met with mixed feeling at the time, perceived as an early stage of divorce by some. However, the fact remains, hunting and point-to-pointing remain intrinsically linked.

To say one relies on the other would be wrong.

While some hunts bank on the income generated by their point-to-point, others choose not to stage a meeting, often considering the risk or effort if staging the event to outweigh the return. The success of club meetings serve to prove that point-to- points can happen without the direct support of a hunt.

Regardless of whether a point-to-point is run by a hunt or a club, the support and engagement of the organisers is critical to its success. One key element that often gets forgotten is race planning. Innovative, well-framed races attract good entries and good entries lead to more runners, and therefore increased competition, which helps ensure exciting racing.

This in turn attracts more spectators and this ensures more income — which results in happy organisers.

Framing races to attract good entries relies on understanding the equine and human demographic. The Point-to-Point Authority’s introduction of a race programming committee has been an important step forward, but it is vital that the key information informing change at the top of the sport filters down to those at the coal face — notably area and hunt secretaries, who are responsible for framing races.

For point-to-pointing to thrive, it needs to cater for both existing and new horses and riders. Organisers, therefore, need to proactively review their race programmes each year to avoid stagnation and embrace the changing demographic.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 22 February 2018