The future looks promising for the sport of point-to-pointing. Despite the uncertainty caused by the ban on hunting, the 2006 season is “all systems go” according to the Point-to-Point Board.

The Board has announced it will schedule at least 202 fixtures next year, which is roughly the same number planned for 2005.

When hunting was banned earlier in the year, it looked like point-to-pointing was in for a rough ride. Hunts organised nine out of 10 fixtures in 2005, so there would no longer be a season for the sport if they decided to disband.

To assess the future, the Point-to-Point Board issued an early call for fixture dates at the beginning of March. Hunts responded well to the challenge and the Board received a deluge of applications.

“I’m delighted at the response from point-to-point fixture organisers. We set them a difficult task in requesting fixture applications four months early. They’ve come up trumps,” says Point-to-Point Secretaries Association chairman, John Wilson.

But then Wilson was sure this would be the case. “We were very optimistic there would be a good take-up because we saw a determination in the hunting community to keep going. We were sure we would see this reflected in the determination to keep, not only hunting, but also point-to-pointing and other related activities,” he says.

Some “half a dozen” or so fixtures are still under discussion for next year. “[They] cannot say categorically whether they can run, but they are very optimistic,” says Wilson.

Once the list is finalised, it will have to be authorised by the BHB, and it will be published in summer as usual. Meanwhile, however, “we are thrilled to be able to reassure all participants and followers of pointing that a full book of fixtures will be held next year,” says the independent chairman of the Point-to-Point Board, Robert Waley-Cohen.

“We have the Owners and Riders Association end of season AGM at Stratford on Friday,” says the chairman of the Point-to-Point Owners and Riders Association, Simon Claisse. “What better news to tell everyone than: see you in January for the start of another full point-to-point season?”