Get to the Point 2 Point
Horse Racing - Talking Point to Point
Here at The Sporting Blog we are known to like a flutter, and with our own J.T McCoy in residence, a chat about the horses is never far away. Aside from Ascot, The Derby, Cheltenham and the like, where could we go to get an up close and personal view of racing? A Point-to- Point of course! We spoke to Becci Thompson from the Point-to-Point authority to find out what 'pointing' is all about.
The Sporting Blog: Just give us the quick run-down of what exactly a Point-to-Point is Becci?
Becci Thompson: Point-to- point is essentially amateur horse racing. Horses are ridden over fences by amateur riders, usually over 3 miles but we do now have some shorter races too. There’s pointing all over the country at 104 different courses - all completely unique! There are around 180 fixtures which run from mid-November to mid-June, so you do often need your wellies!
It’s a great day out in the countryside. There’s no dress code, you can bring your dog, your own picnic and - I often get asked about this – your own booze. You can also get really close to the action!
TSB: A lot of our readers will know of Point-to-Point, but maybe more familiar with it as a social event with food, belts for sale and mini fun fairs! How important is pointing for the actual horses and riders involved?
BT: Massively important! Point-to- point is the grassroots of racing and it doesn’t always get the credit it deserves for that. So many of the jockeys you see riding at professional courses started out pointing. It gives young riders a great grounding in race riding. Something they just can’t get from coaching and training sessions alone – it’s just a huge head start!
We’re also seeing an increasing number of horses spending a season or two pointing before they go off to have a career “under rules” (in professional racing). We had a few graduates running at the Cheltenham Festival this year, which was great. It also provides a place for some of the horses that have finished their professional careers to come back to. For example, the last two seasons Hennessy Gold Cup-winner, Carruthers has been Pointing ridden by [trainer] Mark Bradstock’s daughter, Lily.
TSB: Are there many examples of top riders that started out at Point-to-Point and have made it to the top in Professional racing?
Last season’s Champion Conditional Jockey, Harry Cobden, was our Champion Male Novice Rider the season before – he’s one to watch. Also keep your eyes peeled for this season’s winner James Bowen, he broke the British record for Novice season wins and only started riding in March. He plans to go professional soon.
TSB: Your website and digital presence is young, fresh and quite different to the typical notion of Horse racing. Has it been a conscious effort to aim Point-to-Point at a younger audience?
BT: In all honesty, I think it’s become that way quite organically. There really is a huge range of people who attend and participate in pointing – it genuinely is a sport for all. I also think the fact that, in principle, you or I could become riders or owners or trainers tomorrow takes some of the elitism out of it and lets people really connect with the racing and the stories we’re putting out there.
There are a lot of young people involved with the sport, and we do take that into account. It’s been a mission of mine to up our visual content, we now mostly post pictures and videos on our social media channels. The national website has more of the stories, news and reviews etc. I think they compliment There’s a lot of passion in the sport as it’s pretty much entirely run by volunteers and I think that rubs off!
TSB: What event would you recommend The Sporting Blog team go to for a day out?
BT: For fantastic racing, the meetings at Chaddesley Corbett always attract big fields and Easter Monday at Lockinge is a must in the social calendar. To be honest, you can pretty much guarantee a big welcome at any point-to- point you go to!
TSB: If we drink too much will you drive us home?