Discussions over the future of point-to-pointing are due to take place as hunts decide how to continue under a hunting ban. But the 2005 season, just a month away, will go ahead as normal.
Simon Claisse, chairman of the Point-to-Point Owners’ and Riders’ Association (PPORA), says: “The 2005 season will go ahead as planned: what happens in the long-term is not yet clear. We will give hunts as much help and support as we can.
“But there’s a limit to what we can do about planning the future before we know what’s going to happen to the hunts, the bedrock of the organisation. In the next few months we’ll know how they’re going to reorganise themselves. The expertise, manpower and financial underpinning provided by the hunts cannot be replaced.”
Claisse acknowledges that under the new legislation hunts may find they need point-to-points more than ever to raise funds and galvanise local support.
Chairman of the Jockey Club’s point-to-point liaison committee (PPLC) Mark Davies says: “The Jockey Club and the PPLC are encouraged that the hunting and point-to-pointing community are determined that 2005 fixtures will go ahead as scheduled. During the season we will update interested parties on the sport’s plans for the 2006 season.”
The PPLC has also stated that, as was the case in 2001 with foot-and-mouth, masters will be able to use discretion over qualification of horses after 18 February.
Around 90% of Britain’s 200 point-to-points are run by Foxhound packs. The other 10% are run by clubs, the military and a handful of draghunts.
The 2005 point-to-point season comprises 210 fixtures at 119 venues. The first meeting will take place at Cottenham on 3 January. Around 3,500 horses qualify annually and register to take part in the sport; 1,000 riders also take part.
Don’t miss Horse & Hound’s pull-out guide to the point-to-point season in the 16 December issue!