The Point-to-Point Owners and Riders Association (PPORA) has unveiled new rules covering how horses qualify for point-to-point races, which reduce the number of days that must be spent in the hunting field from seven to four.

The Masters of Foxhounds Association is also introducing a minimum qualifying subscription forall hunts on a point-to-point area basis.

Point-to-Point Owners and Riders Association (PPORA) chairman Richard Russell announced the changes at the AGM at Stratford Racecourse last Friday. They have been introduced following concerns aboutinconsistencies in how horses have previously qualified for point-to-points.

However, many point-to-point secretaries feel that to reduce the days spent on the field is not a good move at this difficult time, as it will lessen the sport’s strong links with hunting.

Other pointing news

Membership of the Point-to-Point Owners’ and Riders’ Association is at an all-time high at 1,810 individuals, including The Queen, who was given an honorary life membership when her Braes Of Mar ran in a PPORA race in March.

However, horse numbers are down 9.8% from the previous year, and rider numbers dropped 9.3%. First-time applicants remained the same and, with novice riders’ races proving popular, areas are being encouraged to stage more of these during the season.

With so many owners continuing to enter horses at the last minute, it was announced that in 2004 entries can only be received by fax or in writing and not over the telephone. These must be paid for by the time of closing and it has been suggested that anyone not complying with this would have to pay a £10 surcharge.

Back protectors and skullcaps will be regularly inspected and there will be more rigorous checks on riders who have fallen.

There will be three riders’ seminars held prior to next season, funded by the British Horseracing Training Board. Two will take place in Newmarket and the third at Doncaster, and will qualify those attending for a Category ‘A’ rider’s permit.

Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (5 June), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.