David Simpson: The four-year-old debate *H&H VIP*

Opinion

What a difference a month makes. I started my last column (6 December) talking about walkovers and matches; since then I have attended three fixtures — at Clifton-on-Dunsmore, Chaddesley Corbett and Larkhill — which have attracted a total of 265 runners.

That’s an impressive number and, encouragingly, the racing was very competitive at all three meetings. It was exciting to watch and we saw some very good winners, boding well for the rest of the season.

The maiden races at Chaddesley (28 December) and Larkhill (6 January) were particularly interesting, and brought a topic that polarises opinions back into focus: four-year-olds.

Both attracted a large entry which required divisions. There were 24 runners across the two divisions at Chaddesley — this included four-year-olds — and both produced exciting finishes.

At Larkhill, we had 28 runners across the two divisions, although this maiden was framed to exclude four-year-olds. Again we saw exciting finishes, and the second division could also be described as incident-packed.

Room for both

I have made no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of four-year-olds running in maiden races, but many are against it, citing the sizeable weight allowance received by four-year-olds as one of the reasons.

Traditionalists also like to see a horse win a maiden and then progress through the ranks, potentially staying in pointing for a good number of years. Others have no problem when a four-year-old wins and is then subsequently sold.

I think that the sport needs both types of horse. Hopefully, those maiden races highlighted will encourage owners of both, although there are still some who would like to see four-year-old only races.

The new Point-to-Point Authority (PPA) chief executive, Peter Wright, has stuck to his promise to hit the road and engage with pointing participants and followers. He’s also listening to opinions and a communiqué was issued at the end of the year, outlining a new timeline for point-to-pointing.

If you’re a subscriber to the PPA newsletter then you will already have seen this. It’s worth a read and it can be found on the national point-to-point website — although it’s buried in the news section!

Ref Horse & Hound; 10 January 2019

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