Darren Edwards: Where is the incentive to return? *H&H VIP*

Opinion

When reflecting on the world of point-to-pointing in recent weeks, it would be easy to be all-consumed by doom and gloom.

I concluded my previous column talking about supply and demand and, in my opinion, the Easter weekend did nothing to dispel that theory. I estimate that there was a crowd in excess of 4,000 people at Dingley on Easter Saturday, but they witnessed 14 runners contest seven races — reduced to six when the maiden failed to get any declarations. Another race was a walkover, an occurrence that took place in four of the six races at Charing in Kent on the same day.

While the racing was poor, the fixtures were blessed with sunshine and picnic crowds giving a welcome boost to gate funds. However, if we cannot provide competitive sport, what is their incentive to return?

In an era in which there is huge competition for the leisure pound and public fickleness is rife, the sport and its stakeholders must take all possible steps to safeguard current and future audiences. Sadly, that is something that I believe is not currently happening.

‘A shining example’

Putting any further negativity to one side, it would be wrong of me not to mention and congratulate fellow jockey Will Biddick on his achievement in surpassing Richard Burton’s previous record of 414 point-to-point winners in the UK.

As someone who sees Will most weekends through the season and has done for the past 15 years or so, I could describe him as a pain in the proverbial (I dread to think how many of the 414 times I have filled the runner-up spot), but in fact he is a great competitor and person — both on and off the course. Will’s dedication and desire to win is a shining example to anyone starting out in pointing, so it is fitting he has become the winning-most rider in our sport’s history.

Ref Horse & Hound; 2 May 2019