Darren Edwards: Steps must be taken to improve the fixture list *H&H VIP*

Opinion

It was great to be back racing last weekend following a fairly torrid month for the sport in which we raced on only one weekend out of four.

While recent events cannot have been helped (first the white-out and then the flu-out) the “quiet spell” began with a fixture-less weekend in mid-January.

Like most equestrian disciplines, point-to-pointing relies on a well-organised and balanced fixture list, plus a good dollop of luck (with the weather for example), to thrive and meet the needs of its participants.

Lack of continuity at any point in the season does nothing to help our sport, so on reflection I think the decision to have a blank weekend mid-season was something of an “own goal” and certainly baffled many trainers and riders. Going forward, further steps must be taken to improve the fixture list and, wherever possible, provide for flexibility and contingency plans.

A family victory

On a positive note, racegoers who attended Chipley Park in Somerset on 27 January not only witnessed good racing, with 106 runners in eight races, but also got to see a further 30-40 horses work and school after racing. The term “racecourse gallop” is frequently heard nowadays, more so in the professional arena, and can play an important part in a horse’s education and fitness.

At Chipley Park we had success with In Arrears, the one and only pointer trained by my parents, Gordon and Angela Edwards. She was acquired from the Doncaster May sales last year from leading Irish handler Colin Bowe, having won once in 13 attempts.

On only her second start for us, in a 16-runner restricted, she stayed on strongly to win by a neck — showing toughness honed on the hills of Exmoor.

All winners are satisfying, but none more so than in the family colours.

Ref Horse & Hound; 21 February 2019