Most of us are partial to a bit snow every now and again, but ideally for no more than 48 hours and at 12-month intervals.
Anything more, in my book, is in the inconvenient-to-nuisance range. Factor in snow drifting, and hard work can become impossible.
First came the snow, then the rain. In preceding weekends, I have gone from a full book of rides to no rides, with meetings abandoned due to the adverse weather. A whiteout followed by a washout.
Amid declining participant numbers, I have questioned the length of the current point-to-point season (mid-November to mid-June). However, slot in a sustained period of poor climate and cancelled meetings and you need a seven-month season for it to be worthwhile.
Not only have horses missed runs — for trainers without access to all-weather facilities — it is a massive challenge to exercise the horses to a level and maintain a regime that is now required to be competitive.
Everyone is a loser when the weather hits and causes abandonments. Owners, trainers, jockeys, hunts, organisers and so on.
What I do think is wrong, however, and detrimental to the future of the sport, is when one stakeholder loses out disproportionately to others.
An increasingly common caveat appearing in The Planner (fixture directory) is “non-refundable entry fees”. Swap your crash helmet for your commercial bowler hat and it is easy to understand the logic for the hosting club or hunt, but does that make it right?
Point-to-pointing relies on retaining current owners and attracting new ones, so asking them to foot the bill for a non-event does not seem fair. A 50% refund as a minimum would at least spread the loss.
Ref Horse & Hound; 15 March 2018