There has been much debate during the past couple of weeks about the participation of four-year-olds in maiden races — some of whom win impressively and go on to make good money at the sales.
Some of the traditionalists see it as the beginning of the end for point-to-pointing in the UK. While others, myself included, feel that it adds a new dimension to the sport and we welcome the increased publicity that comes with it.
The 21lb allowance that these four-year-olds receive from their older rivals also causes some consternation, as some feel it is too much. My view is that it’s fair because it compensates for the additional stamina and maturity that generally comes with age.
Something for everyone
Two weeks ago at Larkhill, both of the maiden races were won by four-year-olds trained by Tom Lacey. Both were impressive and will hopefully be successful under Rules — which will be another feather in the cap for British pointing if they are.
One of the interesting things about the Larkhill contests was the quantity — and quality — of the opposition, with plenty turning up on the day to take on the supposed Lacey hotpots. A good sign, and why not, as the statistics prove that the four-year-olds don’t always win.
People go racing for lots of different reasons — some love to see a star of the future, while others relish the prospect of seeing a plucky amateur in the members’ race, or a pointing stalwart that has gone through the ranks.
The Larkhill card had something for everyone. We may have seen two potential stars but the winner of the open race, Cousin Pete, is a home-bred 10-year-old who still goes out with hounds and was ridden by the son of the late owner and breeder.
There is room for both in the sport and we should celebrate the sporting and plucky amateurs who do it for fun, as well as cherishing the horses that go through the ranks and stay within pointing.
However, shouldn’t we also be forward-thinking, while welcoming and encouraging new initiatives?
Ref Horse & Hound; 18 January 2018