Jacqueline Coward: The true amateur, false starts and the importance of landowners [H&H VIP]

  • We forget that pointing is an amateur sport, as it becomes more and more professional every season. But there are still true amateurs who have only 1 or 2 horses and, when things go wrong, it’s devastating for them.
    It’s these people who spend their hard-earned money and time getting their horse fit and want nothing more than to enjoy the thrill of riding them safely round a point-to-point.

    Being their only horse, they want to keep them going for as long as they can, not thrash them in every single race. It upsets me when these riders are pulled up by the stewards for “not trying”. People would rather save their horse for another day. The stewards need to appreciate that not everyone is in it to win if that’s at the cost of their horse’s welfare.
    I’ve been in a few false starts this season. People tend to race off before everyone is ready, but all it achieves is unsettled horses. As a general rule, we tend to discuss who is “making it” and leading the field at the start of the race. Some jockeys will ask if they can lead because their horse is a better front-runner, or some prefer to settle the horse in behind the rest of the field.My advice for novice jockeys is to communicate, as we are all there to help each other.

    While we’re on the subject of etiquette, I’d like to follow on from my fellow columnist Darren Edwards’ comment: “let’s not forget the landowners”.

    We are losing a lot of long-standing courses and must make sure we look after the courses we have left.

    Without the landowners, we wouldn’t have courses to run on, but we should also spare a thought for the many volunteers who give up their time to help run meetings, too.

    If the chance arises, thank the landowner and organisers, because a thank you goes a long way and without them, pointing wouldn’t happen at all.

    Jacqueline’s column was first published in Horse & Hound (13 February, 2014)