As we move into the last month of the current season with the ground rapidly drying, “firm” creeping into many going descriptions and some early season runners beginning to be turned away, one can be forgiven for thoughts turning to sun, sea and… the prospect of a weekend off. However, with five weekends to go there are still races to be won and fun to be had.
The trend of declining numbers of horses lining up in point-to-points has continued this season with 4% fewer hunters’ certificates registered than last season. But this has not made the races any easier to win and a healthy eight-runner average field demonstrates the competitiveness of UK pointing.
Most of the Race Planning Committee changes implemented ahead of this season (2m4f non-maiden races and more mixed opens, for instance) have fitted into the calendar seamlessly.
One change that has met with some criticism, however, is the scrapping of allowances for five-year-olds from 1 March (mid-season), and this looks set to be reversed ahead of next year.
A further change expected for next season is the introduction of a 5lb novice riders’ allowance to help youngsters coming into point-to-pointing to establish a foothold and gain more rides. Confirmation of all proposed changes are likely to be announced over the coming weeks.
Combine this with news that 29 professional jockeys who rode winners in March are graduates of UK pointing and the outlook for wannabe future Sir AP McCoys is bright.
Ref: Horse & Hound; 12 May 2016