March was a month that most of us have been glad to see the back of. Unless, of course, you are Harriet Tucker, who achieved the pinnacle of our sport by winning the St James’ Place Foxhunter at the Cheltenham Festival on only her second ride under Rules.
On one hand, I was disappointed to see the race won by a licensed trainer (Paul Nicholls) with a horse (Pacha Du Polder) that would almost certainly still hold his own in valuable handicaps under Rules. On the other hand it was great to see a young rider getting an opportunity on the big stage.
The story created some fantastic PR for point-to-pointing in what has been a hugely challenging season.
I believe statistically only 2001 — infamous for the foot-and-mouth epizootic — has proven worse for cancellations in recent times.
While licensed trainers often and, in my opinion, sometimes correctly, receive criticism from the pointing community for encroaching into the world of hunter chasing, without their support I believe the sport would be much worse off.
I hate to keep bemoaning the weather but the impact it is having on all equestrian
disciplines is significant, and without the use of all-weather facilities, many point-to-point trainers would simply be unable to get their horses ready for the races.
One yard that is extremely generous in its support of the local pointing fraternity is that of Philip Hobbs, who is based at Bilbrook in the West Country. I have spent much time using the all-weather gallops and schooling facilities at Sandhill. Without the goodwill of Philip and others like him who open their gates, modern day point-to-pointing would struggle.
Ref: Horse & Hound; 5 April 2018