Category Archives: News

WEST MIDLAND PREVIEW

The 2020 season will probably define the sports future and the coming months provide challenges for everyone involved. Point-to-Pointing showed great resilience to overcome the Equine Flu outbreak, and needed the same resolve when Corona Virus first struck a year later.

There was optimism over the summer the sport could return with limited restrictions so plans were made for an earlier start, but the second wave of the virus which now hangs like the sword of Damocles over our daily lives.

Plans for the sports resumption under strict guidelines have gone through numerous drafts, but just when the situation looks as though it has stabilized, further restrictions are put in place, which requires further amendments and the process goes on.

Despite the best efforts of everyone involved events have been called off at the last minute which has proved frustrating for all concerned, however in typically British stoical manner people have adopted the attitude that “life has to go on”.

Some meetings will be better prepared than others to weather the problems of Covid but big challenges still lie ahead.

We now know that all meetings prior to December 31st 2020 will be held behind closed doors and arrangements are now being put in place to provide a viable fixture list for the remainder of the season should that prove necessary. This allows owners and trainers the opportunity to run their horses on a regular basis, but national and local lockdowns could still make an impact – Flexibility will become a key phrase over the coming months.

The Devon and Cornwall Area have used part of a £10,000 grant from Totnes and Bridgetown Racing Company Ltd to purchase live steaming equipment. This will initially be free to view, but it is unlikely the remaining 13 Areas will have the financial resources to follow suit.

The Ledbury fixture are Maisemore Park on 25th October will also be live streamed and these trials will provide useful information regarding the viability of these projects and any potential revenue streams in the future.

Point-to-Point Racing has always provided a proving ground for aspiring trainers and jockeys, and this has led to Ryan Potter and Max Young making the decision to pursue careers under N.H. Rules.

The sport faces many problems but indications are these early fixtures will be well supported with Mel Rowley one of those priming her horses for these events.

 

Successful in the 2019 Cheltenham Foxhunters HAZEL HILL was denied a run in 2020 following his last-minute withdrawal due to an irregular heartbeat. He had shown good form prior to Cheltenham and will be aiming to retain his perch at the top of the tree.

WISHING AND HOPING was touted as a Festival hopeful in some quarters after wins in a Ffos Las Open and Hunter Chase victories at Taunton and Catterick and is ready to step into his stablemates shoes if required.

SALVATORE recorded successes at Larkhill, Chaddesley Corbett and Didmarton where he left Ballybroker Breeze and Barney Dwan trailing in his wake.

Ben Bromley is still eligible for Novice Riders events and looks well placed to take advantage of that situation with the likes of BALLYKAN, UCELLO CONTI and VIVALDI COLLONGES in his armoury and will have more fire power than most in this category.

Ben Bromley receiving his TCEH Novice Riders prize from Judith Healey at Didmarton

The former was beaten twice by Call Me Vic before scoring at Larkhill, while Vivaldi Collonges beat stablemate Now Ben at Cottenham. Ucello Conti won 11 races under Rules and should have no difficulty adding to that total.

ANOTHER BROWN BEAR carries the Barlow family’s colours, while BURNDOWN was sourced from Gigginstown but his last win was back in 2016. CALIENTE three runs last year yielded just one place when third behind Teeton Surprise at Larkhill.

DRAMATIC PAUSE is back with Rowley after a spell under Rules with Tom Symonds. The 7-year-old won a Bumper for the Ross on Wye handler but subsequent wind surgery may indicate why he was unable to build on that success.

Both FOREST CHIMES and GOLDENBRAVE ran unsuccessfully between the flags in Ireland, although the latter did subsequently win a Bangor Maiden.

KILLINEY COURT is a multiple winner under Rules and finished second to Thumbstone Blues at Cothelstone. Owned by Michaela Tallett, he may be able to provide her with that illusive first winner.

TROOPER JONES was prominent until weakening three out in a Chaddesley Maiden, while stablemate UNDISPUTED won a 2-1/2 mile Cottenham Conditions and a similar event at Badbury Rings.

MY BOBBY DAZZLER and MY BOY OLLIE are both out of winning Point-to-Pointer Ease and Grace. The former needed two runs before getting his act together, while his brother has yet to see the course.

LILITH was second on her debut but had just one run last year and was 12-lengths behind Organised Solution before falling at the last at Chaddesley, while SULU MAGIC has a long absence to overcome.

“Can do better” was the post-race comment after TAQUITO’s his racecourse debut in a Horseheath Maiden, while OPTIMISED was placed on three occasions and it is hope he will break that sequence.

AUTUMN EQUINOX, CASTLE KEEP and GUNPOWDER RUM will benefit from their experiences at Rowley’s Bridgnorth academy and if they have any ability, they are in the best place to maximize it.

THE ODYSSEY was successful as a 4-year-old while HE’S A KNOWALL a 5-year-old by Oscar, HEERATSUNSET is owned by breeder Ray Bailey, MALAITA, THE PLAYER QUEEN and THE WREKIN are ones for the future.

Another Shropshire resident Caroline Robinson is busy preparing six horses. ALLBLAK DES PLACES three outings last year resulted in one placing and it was a similar situation with RULES OF WAR.

SAMBREMONT’s form pails into insignificance behind his brother Djakadam, but connections may be able to squeeze a little win out of him. EMERALD CHIEFTON struggled in the closing stages when finishing just behind the leaders on three occasions last season.

RYANS FANCY won on his debut at Dowth Hall in 2019 and finished third and fourth in “winners of one” races later in the year, and with that profile should be able to succeed this side of the Irish Sea.

THE DELLERCHECKOUT started the year by beating Don Bersy in a Men’s Open at Barbury and followed that by defeating Haymount in a Sheriff Hutton Ladies. Success in a Ludlow Hunter Chase followed before a poor run in the heavy at Haydock.

The Dellercheckout winning at Sheriff Hutton

Congratulations to Phine Banks who married Richard Woodward in September, but will continue to ride under her Maiden name in Point-to-Points.

Phine Banks winning the first of last seasons Oriental Club Races

Phine will be sharing rides with her sister Abbi with the latter reunited with old favourite ARTHURS SECRET who finished third behind Ravished on his only run last season.

On past form Arthurs Secret is vulnerable on his seasonal debut but is likely to click into gear after that and his trainer Martin Weston also has a plethora of 3-year-olds to run in the spring with the law of averages suggesting one of them could prove useful. DIAMOND KING is rarely out of the frame as he showed by finishing third to Barney Dwan at Cocklebarrow.

After multiple placings ROUND ROBIN finally opened his account in 2019 but struggled when upgraded to Restricted’s finishing fifth at Cottenham, second at Bangor and fourth at Didmarton. The Easter period may provide him with a winning opportunity.

Christine’s sister Angela Rucker and husband William have two horses for the new campaign. GOLD OPERA ran 34 times under Rules for six successes and performed well by finishing second of nine in a Haydock Hurdle back in December 2019. That should provide the Worcestershire stable with some fun when they are not following their “Saturday” horses under Rules.

PAXMAN, a 6-year-old by Jeremy won an Irish Maiden at Inchydoney in impressive fashion in May 2018. Three runs over Hurdles for Evan Williams proved disappointing but he has a good chance of finding winning opportunities between the flags.

Pat Tollit’s HIDDEN CHARMER beat Tb Broke Her at Chaddesley and on that form further successes should be forthcoming.

Will Gaskins mare is trying her luck under Rules this year with Tb Broke Her recently joining Ryan Potter’s yard at Caradoc from where “she might be able to sneak a low-grade handicap” according to her owner.

Gaskins’s R BREN is now trained by Potter’s neighbour Jo Priest. She has been in since August and is being targeted at the Restricted at an early Chaddesley meeting. BALLYBROKER BREEZE looked the winner until outpaced by the race fit Salvatore at the Albrighton (North) fixture and could return to the Worcestershire venue or Maisemore to make his seasonal debut.

CHU CHU PERCY won a Cold Harbour Ladies two years ago beating Cloudy Joker and Cheltenham de Vaige and is being aimed at similar events this season, while ALFSTAR sprang a surprise by beating Optimised at Bangor so it could pay to follow him if he makes a return visit.

Dymock based trainer/rider Sam Jukes and Clive Bennett have been a formidable combination over the last decade and their Blackland Farm stables is set for another successful season.

MARCLE RIDGE ran well in last year’s Foxhunters and is likely to follow a similar path and could be seen out at the first Maisemore fixture. The horse is named after a local landmark near Bennetts yard as is newcomer MISS MAYHILL who is related to Nicky Henderson useful hurdler Shiskin.

MISS SEAGREEN is rarely out of the frame, puts her best work at the finish and that should carry her to further victories. SHOMETHEWAY was impressive on both his runs last year which saw him record victories at Ffos Las and Buckfastleigh.

Shometheway and Sam Jukes winning at Ffos Las

THE WELL ROAD, CHASFORGOLD and STONE are not the force they once were but placed in the right races all are capable of enhancing their records.

Jake Slatter record in recent years matches those of many bigger yards as he extracts success from previously modest performers.   

Slatter is preparing two young horses for Jim Collett who has made a welcome return to the sport. ROSE ILLAND finished 30-lengths second to Organised Solution at Chaddesley Corbett and if she continues to improve a Maiden is hers for the taking.

ASK THE LADY’S form in Ireland was nothing to shout about but the experience gained in those outings is sure to stand her in good stead in the future.

The Toddington trainer also has LESA’S OSCAR but she is a few weeks behind the others and will probably not be ready until the Harkaway meeting at the end of December.

Jake’s father Nick has a 4-year-old called DRAGOON SPRINGS and he is likely to make his debut in a Maiden restricted to his age group at Chaddesley.

WATERLOO WARRIOR’s training was disrupted when Angela Slatter broke her arm recently. He impressed last year with two victories from five runs, in a Dunsmore Intermediate and Brocklesby Conditions. An early Intermediate or Oriental Club Conditions have been pencilled in as potential targets.

Waterloo Warrior jumps the last on his way to victory at Dunsmore

Area Secretary Nickie Sheppard has had her hands full in the lead up to the new season ensuring that all the I’s are dotted and T’s crossed as the sport negotiates it ways through the minefield of Rules plus protracted negotiations with local councils to ensure our meetings can take place – that has been no easy task.

RISK AND ROLL and ORGANISED SOLUTION did connections proud last year and it will be interesting to watch their future progress.

Risk and Roll went into the notebook after finishing fourth to Shantou Flyer at Larkhill and his followers were rewarded when he took a Leicester Hunter Chase on his next outing.

Organized Solution and Milo Herbert on their way to victory at Badbury Rings

Despite the shortened campaign the stable managed to get five runs into Organised Solution. Fourth on his debut at Larkhill and second behind Goldenbrave at Bangor. This was followed by impressive wins at the Albrighton and Woodland (North) and in a Badbury Rings Restricted. He was still in a prominent position when unseating at the 9th in a Didmarton Intermediate.

The 4-year-old ONE FER MAMMA is an un-known quantity and his first run will provide some indication to his ability.

Julie Mansell’s has seen some of her pointers go off to see if they are good enough to race under rules, but the Hasfield trainer retains DIVA DU MAQUIS who was well supported when she made her debut in a Mares & Fillies Maiden at Barbury. She was still in contention until blundering badly at the 11th. It is harsh to judge her on just one performance.

Mansell has taken responsibility for SHAMILAN. Louise and George Daly’s 7-year-old used to carry Heather Haddocks colours under Rules, where Tom George saddled him for two places.

Starting any new venture is challenging and even more so in these corona virus driven times, but Max Comley’s set up at Brockhill Quarry seems to provide a perfect location for the trainer to enhance his growing reputation.

Max Comley

CLOUDY JOKER finished third on his only outing in 2019/20, but the previous season he had unseated when leading at the last in the Skinners Ladies Final at Stratford. If he can reproduce that form, he will give his supporters a great deal of fun in the coming months.

KNOCKADERRY FLYER has a Cheltenham Hunter Chase success to his credit but was one of those affected by last years shortened season. The Allsop’s have MADAMME HANNAH and MADAME VOGUE. The former had one run as a 5-year-old so is open to improvement. Madame Vogue had two runs for Suzy Smith and was pulled up when last seen at Huntingdon.

CLONDAW BUNNY came from Dean Summersby’s yard in the West Country and the new yard will do well to match his exploits which included three wins, three seconds and three thirds from fifteen runs between the flags.

BIT OF BLINDING was pulled up at Sheriff Hutton before finishing grabbing a minor placing at Cottenham so his reappearance will be watched with interest, while PAUL’S HILL finished third to Chameron in the Coronation Cup.

BERNARDELLI came from Nicky Richards and should be able to maintain a consistent level of form in this grade, whereas PROVE ME WRONG is highly rated by connections which seems at odds with his form as sixteen runs in Ireland provided just one success in a 4-runner Maiden back in 2017.

CRANBROOK CAUSEWAY was placed under Rules before finishing last of two in atrious conditions at Cocklebarrow, while owner Tom Jones has PERISHING MISSILE and DARA’S PRESENT.

James Ridley has moved from Kinnersley to Ketford near Bromesberrow Heath where he is preparing CHASE ME who scored a hard-fought win over Coco Live in last seasons R.A. Conditions and that indicates he is continuing his upward progression.

Chase Me heads Coco Live at the last at Larkhill

TEMPLEBRADEN and GREEN WINTER are stalwarts of Ridley’s stable, the former having won a multitude of races between the flags although he only managed one outing last year.

Stablemate Green Winter did well to divide Shantou Flyer and Salvatore at Larkhill, and finished in a similar position behind Cameron in the Coronation Cup. Both are capable of winning further races before the season is out.

CASHMOLL won a Bredwardine Maiden in 2019 and looks a progressive type while HURRICANE HARRY won a Maiden for Max Young before finishing third in a Haydock Hurdle. His form fell away subsequently but it would not take much to revieve his fortunes. NO PROMISES had a couple of runs in Ireland and still has time on his side.

On the face of it WHAT’S THE PROBLEM third place in a 2019 Stradbally Maiden does not look very inspiring but he was only beaten a neck and half a length and should be up to Maiden class at the very least.

CREWS PITCH is joined by a 3-year-old by Schiaparelli and a 4-year-old by Valiran, out of Fairy Dawn (which means that he is closely related to Kicking King).

Katherine Smith Maxwell reports her horses are not as forward as normal as she had to spend a few days in hospital.

SILVERGROVE ran well until weakening three out in a Horseheath Open but his subsequent run can probably be ignored as he was pulled up with a badly twisted shoe at Charing.

There was much to admire about SAUSALITO SUNRISE’S 10 length success in the first of last season Point-to-Point Classics The Lord Ashton of Hyde Cup and he will be hard to beat if maintaining that level of form.

Sausalito Sunrise plough through the mud to score at Cocklebarrow

BLACKWATER BRAMBLE returns after winning three consecutive races in 2019 and may be able to run up a similar sequence in the coming months.

Geoff and Tracey Barfoot Saunt have four “possibles” to run pointing, although any or all of them might shift to Rules if the situation dictates.

TENSION TIME came from Lucy Wadham after running third in a 3-mile hurdle in the soft so has a hint of ability.

BOMBAY BASIL seven runs in Ireland went unrewarded but he could make the grade in the right company. TWICE THE MUSTARD finished a long last in a Wolverhampton Bumper so the Wotton-under-Edge stable have their hands full turning his form around.

EARTH SPIRIT has changed stables a couple of times and that is never a good sign which means connections may have to go back to drawing board.

Barfoot Saunts son Harvey has three for Pony Racing including Shoot the Stars and Brooks Spring and can’t wait for the season to commence.

Shelfield Park Clerk of the Course Nick Pearce has several young horses he might Point-to-Point in the Spring but admits nothing is set in stone. WORKBENCH is reportedly heading to Maisemore with the rides this year shared by Murray Dodds (who recorded his first winner on this horse at Higham last year) or newcomer George Cowley.

Tor Collins and Sarah Dawson have enjoyed numerous successes in the past and the latters horses make up the majority of the occupants at Collins’s Broadway stables.

ZAMPARELLI was prominent for a long way in a Skinners sponsored Ladies Race at Badbury Rings and can build on that performance, while TOWER VIEW was pulled up on both his 2019/2020 outings. Dawson also has LITTLE PRETENDER and FLICK THE SWITCH but both may need further experience before showing their best. GALAVANTIN was pulled up at Barbury and made mistakes on his next outing and will need to cut out those errors.

Down in the Beaufort country, Charlie Dando and partner Brooke Gardener-Wallen are busy preparing ACCORDING TO HARRY who beat Fly West in their Members race 12 months ago and must go close if aimed at the same event in March.

Charlie Dando and According the Harry after their win in the Beaufort Members

Dando jointly owns RAVENSDALE with Steve Bush but connections have their work cut out based on his performance at Badbury Rings. EVERYBODY’S TALKIN also ran at his home meeting and was 7-lengths clear of the field at one point but weakened in the closing stages in the race won by Miss Seagreen.

CARRIG DUBH always seems to make the frame but got his head in front when winning a Knightwick Confined on the Clifton-on-Teme’s new course. BRASS IN POCKET also runs consistently but does not win that often and was last seen when falling three out at Didmarton.

LOODEEN was prominent for a long way at Milbourne St Andrew but seems to be one of those horses that is difficult to place.

Charlie’s father David has two horses at their home in Little Sodbury. KIT BARRY would be the best known of them but he made no show when pulled up in a Mens Open at Badbury Rings, while stablemate. JACK MORGAN has had a number of runs between the flags the best of which was fifth place in a Berkeley Maiden in 2019.

 

PROTOCOLS FOR EARLY SEASON MEETINGS

Please find below the latest update from the PPA office ahead of the 2020/21 season, which contains information on how participants, officials and owners can apply for tickets to the opening fixtures.

TICKETS – ALL MUST PRE-REGISTER!

An e-ticketing solution is being worked on for participants, officials and owners to apply for tickets – as a reminder paying public will not be permitted until at least 2021. System still being refined but it will not open before Monday afternoon, by which stage we will know how many entries have been made for this coming weekend. The problem is that some Local Authorities are putting on maximum numbers for Amber Zone (Owners) and so it has to be fair distribution and limits may be placed. Please note the following:

  – Contact Details for all. When you pre-register, please ensure that you have contact details available for everyone for whom you are registering

  – Zones. Please make sure everyone in your vehicle is going to the same zone – your car will be turned away if mixed zone passes. NB a p2p is based on a vehicle, under Rules is essentially pedestrian with shelter so walking in to a stripped down p2p will not be pleasant.

  – Owners. A charge of £5 per person will be applied to all owners registering for tickets.

  – Children. Unfortunately, due to system’s shortcomings, I am afraid children will have to be registered as adults meaning that they will have to pay if registered as ‘Owners’. Parents can, however, provide their own contact details in such cases. We will try to improve system.

  – Survey. You will also be asked to tick a box saying that you agree to take part in a survey by Bath University. These surveys will be ongoing through the season and used to prove how inherently safe our sport is. This is key for getting clearance at National and Local levels and will be used to get return of paying public. Please support.

RESTRICTED AREAS – CHANGE OF PLAN

Providing that you are well you can come to a point to point even if you live or work in a local Covid restricted area. However, in return there will be a health questionnaire and temperature checks on arrival at the gate.

CODE OF CONDUCT

When you register for tickets you will have to tick a box saying that you and all those for whom you are applying will be aware of and comply with the Code of Conduct which will be there to read. We provide an example of the Code of Conduct below – please read

MAISEMORE PARK

I am sorry to report that at this stage sadly we cannot confirm whether Maisemore Park will be able to go ahead on Sunday, October 25. If it does not, all entries will be refunded.

SUMMARY

Everyone is doing all that they can to move forward, and the signs are extremely good with us being well ahead in horses and jockeys qualified compared with same time last year before start of season.

Please keep checking the website for further updates in what is an extremely fluid situation. We hope to get into a routine setting out situation for following weekend on the Tuesday of each week, but I am afraid I cannot guarantee that at present.


CODE OF CONDUCT EXAMPLE

I confirm that I and all those for whom I am registering:

– Will be well on arrival with no signs of temperature, coughs or any other symptoms that might suggest Covid-19 .

– To the best of our knowledge have not got Covid or been in contact with someone who has in last 14 days.

– Accept that we can be turned away if there is any indication that one of us may have symptoms

I agree to ensure that I and all those for whom I have registered:

– comply with all current Government requirements and guidance regarding COVID-19;

– comply with any health checks (including self-checks) required prior to being given access to the point to point;

– observe all social distancing protocols and wear any PPE (such as masks or other face coverings) in accordance with the Government guidance in place at the time;

– maintain personal hygiene including, but not limited to, by regularly washing our hands, using hand sanitiser, avoiding touching our faces and observing coughing and tissue etiquette;

– only use any hand sanitiser, disinfectant wipes or other personal hygiene products, made available at the point to point, for the purpose for which they have been provided and shall not remove these from the locations in which they are provided;

– follow all racecourse signage and the instructions of staff, officials, the police and/or other emergency services present at the point to point at all times;

– wear accreditation (normally coloured wrist band) if required:

– only attempt to access those areas for which we are entitled; and only access ‘officials’ areas in fulfilment of our role. EG confirming presence of horse for race;

– comply with any training requirements required by the fixture prior to being given access to the point to point course;

– use, in the correct manner, any PPE identified as appropriate to our roles;

– follow the instructions of Fixture Officials, particularly Fixture secretary, Senior Steward and Covid Officer and Team but not limited to that number;

– maintain responsibility for disinfection of our own equipment;

– comply with all changes to operating procedures relevant to our role

– are responsible for any person(s) in my vehicle including children entering the point to point with us; and

– comply with point to point regulations

Breaches of this Code of Conduct

Any breach of this Code of Conduct will be reported to the Operator and the Stewards. There will be a zero-tolerance approach to breaches of this Code of Conduct. In the event of any breach by an Attendee, in addition to any applicable sanctions set out in the Entry Contract:

– the Fixture (with the full support of the PPA, BHA and Stewards) may immediately remove the Attendee from the point to point, regardless of the Attendee’s role or status;

– the Stewards may take regulatory action against the Attendee in line with the powers available to them, including reporting said individual to BHA.

Any individual who is ejected from the Racecourse for breaching this Code of will be referred to the BHA and not permitted to enter a point to point for a minimum of 14 days, or until the matter is either heard by the Disciplinary Panel or closed by the BHA. The BHA will seek the exclusion of any person in breach of the Code of Conduct from all raceday activities regulated by the BHA.

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR OWNERS/PARTICIPANTS/OFFICIALS – MAISEMORE PARK – 25TH OCTOBER

The following information has been published to assist those people who have access to this meeting. Please familiarize yourself with these maps

This is a ticket event only No ticket – No entry
 
Masks to be worn the Whole time in both Zones when not in your car/ lorry
 
No more than 6 people in a car or lorry
 
Temperature will be taken at entry gates – if one person is over 37.8 degrees C the whole car/ lorry will have to go home
 
Please practice the 2 meter rule and bubble of 6
 
Please use the hand sanitizer stations provided 
 
Please adhere to the guidance provided by officials.
 
Please enjoy the new experience of Point-to-Point Racing
 
 

 

 

PRINTCONCERN SPONSOR RESTRICTED SERIES

Tim Underwood’s Print Concern have signed up to sponsor a new Restricted Series which will also raise funds for the NHS, writes Jake Exelby. 

The PPA is delighted to announce a new national sponsor for the 2020/2021 point-to-point season, in the form of Print Concern, an Oxford-based digital printing, data and marketing company founded by well-known owner/trainer/rider Tim Underwood (pictured second right above).

The Print Concern Restricted Series consists of 20 qualifying races – with at least one in each of the 14 regional areas – culminating in a Final at Stratford on Friday 28th May 2021. Subject to Covid-19 regulations, the series will launch at the East Devon fixture on the opening day of the season, Saturday 24th October 2020, and visit venues as far apart as Friars Haugh, Wadebridge, Lydstep and Aldington.

Each fixture holding a qualifier – which will be known as ‘The Print Concern Supports the NHS Restricted Race’ – is receiving a payment of £600, plus mementoes for the winning owner and rider. It is hoped that the Final at Stratford will have total added prize money of £10,000.

Qualifiers (and the NHS) benefit from a special entry payment system, where owners/keepers will pay an entry fee of £40, all of which goes directly to the NHS.

The first four in any series qualifier, as well as the winner of any other Restricted race up to and including Sunday 16th May 2021, will be eligible for the final.

Print Concern are also supporting a new Restricted Champion points series, open to any horse who takes part in a qualifier – please note this is a change to the qualification criteria printed in the Planner. Points can be scored in any race, with the exception of Hunter Chases, and will be awarded retrospectively once a horse becomes eligible for the series. The leading horse will win £1,000 and the scoring structure is as follows:

Race Type

First

Second

Third

Maiden / Flat Race

4pts

2pts

1pt

Restricted

5pts

3pts

1pt

Any other Point-to-Point Race

6pts

4pts

2pts

I asked Tim, who has been involved in the sport for over 50 years, why he has decided to sponsor a race series and – more specifically – why he has chosen to do so to benefit the NHS.

“While I’ve ridden many winners,” Tim replied with a grimace, “I’ve had a number of accidents too – concussion, multiple fractures, over 100 stitches in my head… not forgetting a heart attack. Involvement with horses can be a hazardous occupation, so I wanted to recognise everything they’ve done over the years, for anyone attending point-to-points – not just us riders. 

“We all rely on the NHS and nurses, doctors and other staff have endangered their lives for us during this pandemic. I wanted to ensure their efforts will not be forgotten. I’m hoping to raise a substantial amount”, continued Tim, “Although whether I can match Sir Tom Moore is unlikely.” If Tim does, he’ll probably want a knighthood himself!

Tim Underwood (right), who was the Tattersalls Leading Owner in 2018/19

Tim is likely to have “six or seven” horses to run from his yard at Beedon, near Newbury, during the coming season. These include stable stalwarts Cheltenham Mati and Templepirate and three – Irish imports Papal Present and Desperate Man, and the mare Kates Lane – who are eligible to run in the series of races he sponsors. “The latter two are both Maidens,” he told me, “But they should both win and be able to go through the grades. Desperate Man was bought for me by Martin Oliver from Colin Bowe and Mossy Fen, who beat him on his debut, is now rated 143. And someone I know, but who shall remain nameless, has had a decent bet on Kates Lane to be leading mare this year.”

Cheltenham Mati

However, it’s another member of the fairer sex – last season’s Larkhill winner Miss Massey – who’s the apple of Tim’s eye. “She’s turned herself inside out over the summer, and is so well, it’s unbelievable. I hope she follows in the footsteps of her half-brother Timmie Roe.”

Finally, I quizzed Tim – still race-riding at a sprightly 72 – if he intended to partner any of his horses in the series. “If I can, I can… and if I can’t, I can’t,” was his enigmatic response, before admitting, “I’m more likely to ride Tempelpirate than one of the younger horses. The hardest part is getting fit, but I’m definitely not retired yet!”

The full list of qualifiers in the Restricted Series can be viewed here.

Early point-to-point plan boosted by cash injection

Valuable financial contributions have given British point-to-pointing a boost ahead of plans to start the new season in October for the first time.

Three of the sport’s national sponsors – The Jockey ClubOriental Club and Tattersalls – have each stepped in with generous financial support, creating a £12,000 pot that will go towards funding the first half dozen fixtures of the season. It is set to start three weeks earlier than in recent seasons on the weekend of October 24 and 25, with a fixture in Devon followed by one in Gloucestershire.

The early start reflects races lost and challenges posed to owners, trainers and race meeting organisers when the curtailed 2019/20 season closed down in March due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

Matthew Prior of bloodstock auctioneers Tattersalls says: “We were looking forward to sponsoring point-to-pointing’s annual awards ceremony, but in the changed landscape of Covid-19 that event cannot go ahead and we were more than happy to divert those funds into assisting point-to-pointing in its attempts to get under way for a new season.

“Point-to-pointing has an important role in a sector of our business and we want to do our best to help it get back up and running.”

Philip Hall of The Jockey Club says: “After the Covid-induced challenges for the 2019/20 point-to-point season, we recognise the importance of an early start to the next season and are delighted to play a role to support that. We see the significant value that the grass roots of National Hunt racing brings to the broader sport and continue to evaluate how we can help point-to-pointing”.

Matthew Rivett of Oriental Club says: “At this most challenging time, Oriental Club more than ever wishes to seek opportunities to engage with the amateur racing community and the point-to-point race-going public when opportunities arise.

“The Club has been impressed – itself having experienced the complexities of achieving a Covid-secure Club environment – with the various plans and protocols which are being put in place to enable point-to-point meetings to resume, whether ‘behind closed doors’ or, as it is hoped, in various formats of public participation.”

Tattersalls Cheltenham will sponsor every young-horse maiden at the opening fixtures, including Britain’s first ever four-year-olds-only race at Chaddesley Corbett in Worcestershire on November 8.

Oriental Club kicks off the second season of its sponsored owner-trainer series with races at Maisemore Park (October 25) in Gloucestershire and Charing (November 15) in Kent, and continues with races in January and February having previously opened its series in March.

The Jockey Club will have various races run under its name across the opening weekends, including the first qualifier in the veteran horse series – co-sponsored by Retraining of Racehorses – at Chaddesley Corbett.

 

Can Pointing yards capitalize on a US market?

Chaddesley Corbett doesn’t share much in common with the famous Churchill Downs, home to next month’s Kentucky Derby, other than its spectators love horseracing. Nevertheless, it remains one of the strongest courses for betting among Point-to-Point courses, based on its winter programme of strongly contested races and could benefit from using some of the same approach that the Run for the Roses deploys to win the best competitors. 

Next month’s Kentucky Derby fixture, over two days September 4-5, would normally attract over 200,000 spectators. The Derby is a major social occasion, built around the Mint Julep, with a formidable betting turnover that even Cheltenham can only dream of. The USA’s Kentucky Derby picks allow the track to benefit from a global betting turnover topping $165.5m (2019). 

In order to run in the Kentucky Derby, horses have to earn points through a series of qualifying races. It’s the Derby’s equivalent of the road to Cheltenham, and not so dissimilar to the national Point-to-Point series that punctuate our calendar. 

Qualification for a national final has hitherto been a significant draw in attracting entries for races through the season, and as is so often the case, where one entry is made, others are made by the same yard in the supporting card. Given the importance of entry income to a fixture’s financial result, staging a national qualifier is an important influence. 

There is a strong trend in Point-to-Point racing presently to encourage young horses alongside the young riders we’ve successfully nurtured over many generations. The advent of Bumpers, young horse maidens and now a four year olds maiden – a Chaddesley innovation – is all part of a trend toward making the sport more of a stepping stone to Rules racing rather than part of the natural deterioration of older horses stepping down from the sport.

There is a role for both elements; last season’s Veterans Chase series was well received, just as the jointly-sponsored Tattersalls & Goffs  Young Horse Maiden Series was for young horses. In a Rules sport that is largely dominated by half a dozen very large stables where owners have seemingly bottomless pockets, the development of young horses through Pointing has allowed trainers struggling to create space for themselves under Rules a breathing space to develop and sell on young horses as a successful career. 

The likes of Phil Rowley, Charlie Poste and most recently Bradley Gibbs are examples of horsemen earning their spurs in Pointing with largely young horses as part of developing their careers in order to take out a professional trainer’s licence. 

These same young horses brought on in Point-to-Point races over here are sometimes finding their way to the USA, not of course to run in races like the Derby, but for east coast jump races. Over 400 horses are sold each year to race in the USA, and a growing number of these are Jumping cast-offs here that can succeed in the faster ground conditions of tracks like Far Hills, Saratoga and Belmont, as well as the smaller country tracks that are the beating heart of the US Jumps scene. 

At events like the Virginia Gold Cup or Callaway Gardens, British exports like American Ladie, trained by Alan King then Jamie Snowden, and rated 115 at best, have found their mark. 

Bob le Beau, formerly trained by Jessica Harrington through a flat then Jumps career, was sold to Elizabeth Voss’ stable in to much greater success at city tracks in the USA. And Scorpiancer, formerly with Rebecca Curtis, to whom he was sent after winning his Maiden Point-to-Point at Kildorrery, was subsequently sold to race in the US with great success, winning valuable races at Percy Warner Park, Belmont and most recently second to Brain Power in the Grade I Grand National Hurdle at Far Hills last year. Since leaving the UK, his rating has increased over 25lbs. 

 

In short, whilst the top-ranked races like the Run for the Roses hog the limelight, the Point-to-Point scene can capitalize on the US appetite for well-bred, fast chasers that prefer top of the ground conditions. 

BCD PLANNING FOR 25TH OCTOBER MEETING

How to provide a safe environment for racing connections at our Behind Closed Doors meeting on 25th October has been in the planning for some time, and yesterday we travelled to Stratford Racecourse to see their Covid protocols in operation.
 
We met with Racecourse Manager (& PPSA Chair) Ilona Barnett and the Point to Point Association’s Peter Wright to discuss how we can adopt similar protocols in this new climate.
 
For the time being, it is likely that all those entering a point to point be it trainer, owner, jockey, steward or helper will have to comply with numerous requirements as laid down by government.
 
This is of course a very fluid situation so the requirements could change, for better or worse, but we are determined to have a plan in place which allows for this and is practical.
 
One thing that does look likely is the need to collect data to allow track and trace, which in turn will need pre-registration.
 
Ledbury P2P (Gloucester Races) are the national Behind Closed Doors (BCD) trial meeting.
 
This will allow lessons to be learnt so that if another P2P has to do the same it can use that information to follow protocols that will have been developed to ensure that public health is not put at risk and the sport can continue. 
 
Social distancing and some other protocols that may apply on the 25th October