Polly Walker: Those involved in pointing must speak up *H&H VIP*

Opinion

Successful point-to-points are organised by enthusiastic hunting people, who draw on the help of hunt supporters. A great point-to-point is part of the fabric of the countryside and it is thanks to the people who help out to make their meeting a success, come rain or shine.

The fact that the PPORA (Point-to-Point Owners and Riders Association) no longer holds a point-to-point probably says everything about the likely success of clubs running points. Centralisation of every part of our sport is alienating many of the organisers, who feel the PPA (Point-to-Point Authority) board push through many new regulations — some of which are not that well received.

If you feel strongly about our sport, please speak up and email info@p2pa.co.uk — our new chief executive, Peter Wright, is very receptive and, I believe, a great man for the job. But those involved in point-to-pointing must speak up, if they feel any changes are not necessary.

Too complicated?

We want our sport to survive into the 2030s and beyond. Some areas of the country are going to be weaker than others because of the population, countryside and economy. Let’s not compromise those areas that are already doing well, but instead lend support to the weaker areas to bring them on a par with the stronger ones.

The diversity of people involved in organising and participating in our sport has kept it going from strength to strength. In my opinion, some of the new regulations are weakening it. New rules about doctors and health and safety are inevitable and necessary, but many others are not and are making it more complicated and expensive to participate.

Creating goodwill

Most owners of point-to-pointers do not run their horses for the prize money. However, they do not expect to have to pay expensive entry fees either — if they do pay over the odds, they send them under Rules instead.

How about looking after owners better, with a hospitality tent to make sure they have a good day? Or what about presenting them with prizes-in-kind, for example, for the first hunted horse past the post or first grey horse, which would create goodwill.

More jockeys should hunt

Darren Edwards wrote in his comment recently how he felt many jockeys go too fast early on  in a race and do not judge pace well. This is bad for horse welfare, and also competitive race finishes.

Will Biddick agrees with him and so do I — all three of us learnt how to ride on the hunting field, as have many of the top Irish jump jockeys. More jockeys should be encouraged to hunt, otherwise we risk losing the link between hunting and pointing even more, at the same time as lowering the quality of jockeys we produce in the UK.

Ref Horse & Hound; 13 December 2018

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