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 Club, Oriental 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.