POINT-TO-POINT - Horse races, fast and furious - Open to everyone

POINT-TO-POINTING - an event to be enjoyed at least once! 
This wonderful, exciting sport is horse racing organised and participated in by amateurs, often held within stunning park land and privately owned estates.
Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy a thrilling days entertainment; it is fast and action packed.
Do not hesitate to contact the horseanswerstoday team for details of a race meeting near you.

Early days

The foundation of this sport originated when hunting men raced their hunters over natural country from point-to-point or from one church steeple to another, hence the term steeple chasing which is used to describe horse racing over fences.

The first record of such contests date back in Ireland to 1752, however in England, following a few sporadic meetings in 1836, the earliest recorded annual Hunt Point-to-Point meeting was the Atherstone in 1870. 
Over the years the sport has adopted many changes from enclosing the event, introducing structured races, riders' weight restrictions and the exclusion of any professional riders. During the 19th Century many rules and regulations were implemented by racing authorities, making the sport more professional, however the core is still strong and the occasion still shows the countryside and people at their best.  
Historically a Point-to-Point was the show piece from the Hunt to entertain and thank their farmers and landowners for giving them permission to hunt over their land. All the horses that run in the races have qualified, by hunting with a recognised pack of foxhounds or harriers, and are all thoroughbreds, with the exception of the Hunt race, which may include non-thoroughbreds.  

Open to all 
The conditions of the races offer opportunities for all levels of horse and rider:
* Maidens (never won a race)
* Restricted (winner of a maiden race)
* Intermediate (winner of a restricted)
* Confined (any horse qualified with the host hunt and listed neighbouring packs)
* Open Races and
* Novice riders.  
The schedule of races at each meeting is decided well in advance so that owners/trainers can decide which horse will be entered where. The entries are made the weekend before and the race card is compiled with full details of the runners, riders, owners and trainers for each race (between 6 and 11 races per meeting), advertisers, race form, guidelines and any other notices. 

boysiepttoptThe day itself 

The owners/trainers declare the horse they wish to run on the day -  they may not bring all that they have entered because of problems with the horse or changes in ground conditions which do not suit their horses. For each race the jockeys weigh out (in breeches, boots and colours) on the scales with the saddle, pads, tack and any extra lead, if needed, to record the correct weight to be carried by the horse ( as defined in the race card). This tack is then given to the trainer/owner who saddles the horse. 
The horses are led around the parade ring for 10/15 minutes and then the jockeys are called out of the changing room and they are legged up. Mounted Hunt staff accompany the runners to the start where girths are checked, the starter raises the flag‚Äöand they are OFF!

The first of nineteen 4ft birch fences comes up very quickly when approached at about 25mph, with possibly 16 other runners all around doing the same speed. It is an exciting spectacle with colours, oohs and ahhs, sweat and steam a-plenty.

Along with the wonderful action-packed racing there are bookmakers, refreshments, food stands, clothing, country crafts and many other attractions. Each race is run over three miles, timing between six and seven minutes, except the Maiden races for young horses which are run over 2¬? miles.

Go on...try it!
The season is every weekend and bank holiday from December to May.
Check your local press or ring your local hunt for details of your nearest Point-to-Point, get some friends together, pack a boot full of picnic, wrap up warm and have a wonderful day.  I am sure you will enjoy the experience even if you don't back a winner; the up close and personal buzz is addictive.
Just try it once!