By the time you read this, the British 2018/19 point-to-point season will be well under way. We may be fast approaching winter, when waterlogging and frost are the normal threats, but the uncharacteristically dry summer and autumn has meant quick ground is actually proving to be the biggest challenge.
In the dim and distant past (when I used to think 11 stone was heavy), I had the odd ride through the summer months, which was great for keeping my eye in and the “pace-clock” in check.
Nowadays, I think 11 stone is light, so when I zip up my racing bag in June, it invariably stays firmly shut until November. The inevitable downside is that the eyes boggle slightly through the down season and the “pace-clock” requires a little recalibration to get back up to speed.
That happened at Buckfastleigh, 18 November, when the opening 2m4f maiden felt more like a 1m4f race — not helped by a couple of tearaways, which spread-eagled the field. I turned to an experienced colleague (who is now best known as “Mr Harriet Nuttall”) mid-race to agree that the leaders were going much too fast.
Alas, while the winner of the race came from well off the pace, some of the front rank ultimately did not stop as much as we were expecting — primarily due to the good ground. It is fair to say my cobwebs were firmly blown away and my clock is now considerably sharper for the outing.
Keep up the good work
There have been a number of key changes in the point-to-point world over the summer, not least the departure of Clare Hazell as chief executive of the Point-to-Point Authority and the appointment of Peter Wright as her successor.
Clare has brought the sport a long way in her time and, with many challenges still to address, I hope that Peter can continue the good work.
In the meantime, I wish everyone the very best for the season ahead.
Ref Horse & Hound; 29 November 2018