What Are Point To Point Races?

You may well have read how Victoria Pendleton had a scare, earlier this month when her mount, Vesperal Dream, careered through the side of a fence in the Ladies’ Open at the Hursley Hambledon point-to-point meeting at Larkhill in Wiltshire. Both horse and jockey were fine, but what are point to point races, exactly?

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A point to point event is a type of racing over jumps for hunting horses. The jockeys will be amateurs. The sport is very popular in the Republic of Ireland, but you will also find point to point races in England, Wales and Scotland. In Ireland, many successful point to point horses will go on to race at major events. Point to point horses that win their first race are likely to be sold for a hefty price.

UK Point To Point Racing

In the UK, point to point racing is not so competitive. However, the days when a local farmer would enter any old horse into one of these races have long gone. Nowadays, the horses tend to be from livery yards. These yards do not have professional licenses, but produce and nurture good horses for racing. Many will have some kind of an affiliation with a professional yard.

In a point to point race, the horse will still be a thoroughbred. This is unless the race is only for members of a hunt. Even if this is the case, the horse’s owner must have a hunt certificate or the horse will not be allowed to take part. The body that oversees point to point racing is called the Point to Point Authority (PPA).

Hunter Chase Races

The horses can also run in hunter chase races. A hunter chase race will be run under the rules of the British Horse Racing Authority. Many regard the hunter chases as the link which ties professional racing to the point to point encounters.

We still refer to horse racing over full-sized jumps (as opposed to hurdles) as steeplechases. The term steeplechase comes from the idea of horses racing between two steeples (the tall pointed roofs on old churches). Essentially, this is what a point to point race is meant to recreate – the idea of a contest of speed, between two or more horses, over the undulating countryside and with walls and hedges to negotiate.

Being able to travel over this sort of terrain, at speed, was essential to being a successful hunter. Both the rider and the horse required the skills to do this. For this reason, the races became popular very quickly and it wasn’t long before bets were being made by the spectators and owners.

Irish Point To Point Racing

It is of no surprise that the first recorded steeplechase took place in the Republic of Ireland, given that country’s long and proud tradition of jumps racing. The first recorded encounter took place in County Cork. Two men, named Blake and O’Callaghan, challenged each other in the year of 1752. The race was held between the steeples of Buttevant and Doneraile. The distance was a grueling four and a half miles.

We do not offer betting on point to point races,here at RaceBets, but you will find many opportunities to bet on hunter chase races and all forms of National Hunt racing. There will be jumps meetings taking place throughout the year, with the majority of races taking place in the winter. Take a look at today’s race cards, to see what jumps action is taking place today.

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