Opinion

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There can be no disputing that point-to-pointing is a very sociable sport and that will have been obvious to anyone who has attended a fixture in recent weeks when the sun has been shining.

I thoroughly enjoy the social aspect of pointing and will happily spend an afternoon in a field chatting and picnicking with friends, but the action on the track is what brings the majority of us to that field and there we have a problem — in some areas at least.

Horse numbers are down and field sizes have been embarrassingly low at some fixtures. I recently attended one fixture that had two matches and a walkover, which had people heading for the exit well before the last race.

This is a hot topic among participants and pointing enthusiasts at present and is being debated on a regular basis. Some are also expressing concern that we are losing a number of owners to under-Rules racing.

Therefore, what can be done to reverse the tide? It costs a similar amount to keep a horse whichever code you choose to run it under and there’s no disputing that there are many other benefits for owners under Rules, the obvious one being prize money.

I’m told by many who have been involved in pointing for decades that prize money is not the be all and end all. Taking part, winning occasionally and enjoying all of this with friends are all more important — although I firmly believe that prize money should be increased, but that is a whole new debate.

What works for others?

The first thing I would do is to consult with those areas of the country where numbers are holding up and find out what they are doing right — it certainly can’t do any harm.

I would also concentrate on promoting involvement in racing clubs and syndicates. This is how I became involved in point-to-point ownership and I would throw the kitchen sink at this in marketing terms, while also using the unique social aspect of the sport as a selling point.

This could attract some much-needed new blood to the sport, but one thing I would certainly recommend is that there are sufficient passes available when they have a runner — another hot topic at present.

Ref Horse & Hound; 24 May 2018