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Attending point-to-point fixtures in different parts of the country has highlighted an area in which there is a fair degree of inconsistency enforcing one particular rule — the wearing of branded clothing in the paddock by grooms or connections.

This is perfectly acceptable if the horse they are leading up is sponsored by the brand name on the jacket, but against the rules if not.

In some areas it is policed and the rules are firmly enforced, but in other areas it is not even mentioned. Now, I’m not advocating that people break the rules, but if someone is leading up in a branded jacket or gilet, is it such a big deal?

Two recent instances have occurred on bitterly cold days and the persons wearing the “offending” garments were not making a blatant attempt to bend the rules, as both were blissfully ignorant of said rule. They just wanted to keep warm.

I have a suggestion, publicise the rule far and wide or, better still, if it happens then by all means have a quiet word in the ear of the offender. But also use it to potentially encourage new participants in the sport.

A trying time

If the brand name on the garment belongs to someone who is not already involved in pointing, then why not write to them and invite them along to the next area fixture? I say this, because one of the incidents I witnessed involved a groom, who was wearing a nice jacket provided by the National Hunt trainer for whom he works.

The jacket also had a sponsor’s name on the back. I’m not sure if the National Hunt trainer is involved but I know the sponsor isn’t — yet. However, a nice letter to both with an invite to experience a day at a point-to-point could reap dividends, so why not try it?

It’s been a very trying time for a number of point-to-point organisers across the UK, with the recent spell of adverse weather leaving them with no choice but to postpone their fixture, or in some cases, to abandon altogether. Some tough calls have had to be made and credit must be given to those organisers who have made early decisions and then communicated accordingly using all available channels.

Ref Horse & Hound; 29 March 2018