First, Happy New Year! While the declining number of hunter chases in recent seasons has been viewed by some as another nail in the coffin for our sport, 2015 offers fresh hope with the inaugural running of the DBS Spring Sales Point-to-Point Bumper Final (a Maiden National Hunt Flat Race) at Aintree.
For as long as I have been riding, the May highlight in the point-to-point calendar has always been the Cheltenham hunter chase evening, which regularly attracts the best runners and riders from far and wide. However, on 15 May this season, the innovative bumper final will offer non-licensed trainers the chance to showcase the cream of their youngstock on the professional stage.
To be run over 2m1f, the race is restricted to four-, five- and six-year-old horses previously unraced under Rules and which prior to 9 May have finished first, second, or third in a maiden point-to-point.
The first three home in the race will be offered a free wildcard entry to the DBS Spring Sales (18-20 May).
In an era where point-to-pointing has to compete as hard as any other sport to capture the increasingly precious leisure pound and attract new blood, such innovation is welcomed.
This new race is a boost for those unlicensed trainers who focus their efforts on developing and trading young pointers in the UK. The generous £10,000 prize-money will be the primary attraction for some, but the possibility of a prestigious Aintree winner coupled with an immediate uplift in the horse’s sale value makes it a potentially life-changing event.
I for one will be looking for an up-and-coming maiden star with whom we might be able to target at the race.
Ref: H&H 8 January, 2015