The sport of point-to-pointing is to forge even closer links with hunting, increase independent funding, look at weight allowances for novice riders and introduce new rules to ensure hard ground is not raced on.

The moves are among a number of key findings published this week in a report on how the sport can modernise, while maintaining its links to hunting and its special amateur ethos.

A group of owners, riders, trainers and organisers across the UK was last year charged with a “root and branch” review of point-to-point racing, the first in 20 years.

“The sport is in extremely good health and very little needs to be done to modernise it,” said Robert Waley-Cohen, chairman of the Point-to-Point Board. “Our main challenge is to keep the fun element in without getting caught up in red tape. We’ve been able to do this so far, so I don’t see why we can’t continue.”

Mr Waley-Cohen said that plans to set up a “first-class” website, with both free information and an area for subscribers, were afoot.

The Master of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) has been charged with policing the fees levied by individual hunts for the qualifying of horses, and chairman Stephen Lambert said the links between point-to-point and hunting were as strong as ever.

“The two are joined at the hip,” he said. “I’m delighted that we are fully engaged and working together for the future of the sport.”

Mr Lambert said the MFHA would be meeting the Point-to-Point Owners’ & Riders’ Association and the Point-to-Point Secretaries’ Association within the next six weeks to discuss new initiatives — including funding, which he described as a “tricky” issue.

He said: “We have to look at how the extra funds the sport needs are going to come about. We need to find a way to raise more cash without penalising owners or hunts.”

Mr Lambert added that some initiatives were in the pipeline, but said that he was unable to reveal more details at present.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (5 April, ’07)

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