Point-to-point racing is a form of amateur horse racing that takes place on a cross-country course. The course usually consists of a farm land track. An example of point-to-point racing is the popular Kimblewick point-to-point. A course is usually between two and four miles in distance. Races include a number of obstacles (fences, streams and other obstacles) to provide a competitive racing challenge. The official season start and end dates are provided by the BHA. The seasons usually start in November and run through to June.
Point-to-point racing defined
Point-to-point races have novice jockeys and non-professional owners. Somewhat obviously the prize purses are also much smaller. As an example, the maximum sponsorship for one selected race we looked at in this type of racing horse was £950 – hardly the route to riches in the horse racing world. The prize money for the 2022/23 season was £1250 maximum as stated in the rulebook.
The best way to describe it is “The thrill of the chase.” The horses are often not as highly trained as those in professional races (The costs of managing any race horse are significant.). Point-to-point racing is considered to be less formal and less competitive than professional horse racing. Readers may be asking “What makes a horse non-pro?”. The huge rule book for point-to-point regulations states that:
Conditions Point-to-Point Steeple Chase” is a race open to any horse which satisfies the conditions of the race and which at starting, other than for the final of a national Conditions Series, has not won two Hunter Chases/Open Point-to-Point Steeple Chases or three Conditions Point-to-Point Steeple Chases within the current season.”BHA Rules and regulations handbook.
Similarly, the riders must hold a novice classification. The rules bar any professional Jockey who has held a professional riders licence from competing in a point-to-point race. There are exceptions too lengthy to be found in the regulations handbook mentioned above.
What a meeting involves
Point-to-point racing is somewhat similar in its implementation to Steeple chase racing. However, the aims and intentions are somewhat different, as is a day at point-to-point racing, Most days at a point-to-point race will have a minimum of six races. (Five if over Easter weekend). An official race must be sanctioned by the British Horse racing authority. Additionally, these races can be provided by hunts or the British armed forces. The aims are furtherance of the hunt in general, providing financial income and exposure for those groups. There is no mainstream betting (Think major online bookies) on these events and betting will take place on-track where it is provided. Often there is a betting pool provided by the Tote, the bookmakers that’s just a bit different.
At the end of the day, point-to-point racing is all about the fun and the purity of a day at the races but without the dress up, costs to the race goers and allowing jockeys and owners to get experience and exposure without the massive overheads associated with it. Emphasising the family nature of this type of racing, picnics and well-behaved dogs are encouraged (But do check with the race you are attending first!).
Finding an official race is quite simple as most races are listed here.
Feature image: Kimblewick Races Point-to-point in action. Image credit Hattie Austin