The Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA)is to review the rules for qualifying point-to-pointers after discrepancies in the way packs administer the system have come to light.

Under current rules, to be eligible to run in a point-to-point a horse should be “regularly and fairly hunted”for no less than seven days and a subscription should be paid to the hunt at a level decided by each pack.

However, in recent years, some owners of valuable point-to-pointers have been reluctant to risk injury to their horses in the hunting field. And in the 2001-2002 season a late start to the hunting season meant few owners had the chance to fit in the required number of days.

For that season only, the MFHA decreed that point-to-point owners could qualify simply by paying the appropriate subscription. However, it appears that some owners have taken advantage of this situation.

Chris Burrows-Wood, joint-master of the Clifton on Teme, says: “There seems to be growing pressure on masters to let owners qualify without hunting their horse – because if we don’t another pack will.”

Mike Felton, MFH Blackmore and Sparkford Vale and point-to-point representative on the MFHA committee, believes it is vital that point-to-pointers hunt because the chase teaches horses and riders so much.

“Horses learn how to behave and to work in the company of a large field. The variety of ground conditions encountered out hunting is also a valuable preparation for racing on a point-to-point course.

“Aspiring jockeys learn how to ride into a fence upsides others, and the importance of riding straight. We will always require point-to-pointers to hunt, but may look at the number of days required,” he comments.

The MFHA committee will consider the introduction of new regulations on qualifying this spring, which will be ratified by the Jockey Club before next season.

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