“Are you sure he is ready for that?” was my initial reaction when I took a call recently asking me to ride a maiden pointer in a race around Aintree. “I like the horse, but it is a big step up and the fences take some jumping…”
Thankfully, the race in question was the Goffs UK Spring Sale Point-to-Point Bumper Final, which followed a similar race run at Exeter in April and offered the chance for non-licensed trainers to showcase the cream of their young stock on the professional stage. For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, a bumper is a flat race.
Both races were run over 2m1f and restricted to four-, five- and six-year-old horses previously unraced under Rules but who had finished first, second or third in a maiden point-to-point prior to a predetermined date. Not only was generous prize-money on offer, but the first three home in each race qualified for a free wild-card entry to the Goffs UK Spring Sales.
Also for the first time this season, point-to-point bumpers (two divisions) were run at Barbury Castle in January and a further race will take place at the concluding hunter chase meeting at Stratford (9 June).
To traditionalists these races are a departure from the roots of point-to-pointing. On the plus side they are a boost for unlicensed trainers who focus their efforts on trading young pointers in the UK — and they offer another dimension to the education of both horse and jockey.
Like them or loathe them, more bumpers will feature next season. I encourage everyone to embrace them.
Ref Horse & Hound; 25 May 2017