The new season is go! A beginner’s guide to point-to-point racing

  • With the 2021/22 season underway, Horse & Hound is here with a helpful guide to the sport of point-to-point racing, which offers an entertaining day out in the fresh air, watching fit equine athletes taking part in exciting amateur racing over fences. If you’re planning to attend for the first time, our useful bluffer’s guide to the sport will help you to understand what is going on…

    Point-to-point racing: what you need to know

    Point-to-point racing is steeplechasing for amateur riders. The race days are run at local level by a hunt or a recognised club, under the jurisdiction of the Point-to-Point Owners and Riders Association and the Point-to-Point Secretary’s Association. The sport is overseen by The Jockey Club.

    The sport of point-to-point racing, or pointing as it is also known, dates back to 1836 when hunting men used to race their horses from church steeple to church steeple — hence the name “point-to-point”. The undeniable link between these two country sports still exists over 250 years on – all of the jockeys have to be a member or subscriber of a hunt.

    Some point-to-points include flat races for ponies, where riders aged between nine and 15 can experience their first experience as race riders. These ponies and their young riders must have proven their competency before being allowed to race.

    A local point-to-point is invariably an interesting, sociable day out. Along with the excitement of hotly contested racing and the opportunity of tax free betting, most meetings have trade stands, a licensed bar, refreshments and a hound parade.

    Guide to point-to-point races

    Most races are run over three miles with a minimum of 18 fences to be jumped. There are a few longer races of up to four miles and some two-mile races for maidens.

    A hunt members’ race is for horses qualified with the hunt or hunts promoting the meeting.

    A maiden race is open to any horse which has never won a race at a point-to-point meeting or any race under the rules of the Jockey Club or other racing authority. A maiden horse means a maiden at the time of start.

    An intermediate race is open to any horse, which has not won any flat race (other than a National Hunt flat race) under the rules of the Jockey Club or other racing authority or any “mens”, “ladies”, “mixed” open or Intermediate Race at a point-to-point meeting.

    A confined race is for horses qualified with the hunt or hunts promoting the meeting and not more than 15 hunts actually adjoining it. If insufficient hunts adjoin, the nearest neighbouring hunts must be included.

    An open race is open to any horse and is either a “men’s” (to be ridden by male riders), “ladies’” (to be ridden by female riders), or “mixed” (to be ridden by either male or female riders), open steeplechase.

    A Hunters’ Chase is a weight-for-age steeplechase under the Jockey Club’s rules of racing confined to point-to-point horses and to amateur riders and these are held under Rules.

    The season is now underway and runs through until June. View the full fixture list and find out how to buy tickets.

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