Two seasons ago, I just got touched off in a maiden in Devon by a horse called Noah And The Ark. It’s fair to say that, as we embrace a new season, most of us would welcome a little assistance from Noah and his ark to get up and running in this weather.
A total of 167 meetings are taking place over the next seven months and we already look set to have more soft ground than virtually the whole of last season.
The Point-to-Point Authority (PPA) have reacted to a mixed appetite for November and December racing by reducing the number of pre-Christmas meetings from 11 to nine. Overall, there are set to be five less fixtures between now and mid-June.
Declining numbers — most notably in both horses and jockeys — has been an all too familiar trend in the point-to-point world in recent years. But, regardless of scale, the future success of the sport relies on creating a competitive spectacle that people want to be a part of.
I see having less racing in the short term as part of the solution, rather than compounding the problem — so applaud the PPA for taking this action.
Keeping mainstream audiences
Of greater concern is the loss of seven hunter chases through the season. As a key component of our shop window to mainstream audiences — live broadcasts to betting shops and daily newspapers — hunter chases are critical to the brand and public awareness of point-to-pointing.
The competitiveness of these races has dwindled in recent seasons, due in part to the structure of them. But hopefully there will be runners aplenty when they kick off again in the new year.
Come rain or shine, it is great to be back pointing and I wish everyone the best of luck for the season ahead.
Ref Horse & Hound; 21 November 2019