what is point to point racing?
Point to point (also known as pointing or p2p) originated in Ireland in 1752. It is the very essence of jump racing and the origin of National Hunt steeplechasing, the racing you would see on television at Aintree for the Grand National or Cheltenham for it’s festival of racing. Horse owners would race against each other from one point to another point (usually church steeples) across open countryside jumping ditches, hedges and fences to see whose horse was fastest – usually for a small wager. Over time it became more and more popular; eventually becoming the professional sport we see today and governed “under rules”.
Point to point however has stayed true to its roots – still an amateur sport at heart with participants coming from all backgrounds and levels of experience. The season runs from mid-November through to mid-June, with around 2000 horses in training and around 100 courses across the UK, some hosting several meetings and others set up purely for the day.
A point to point meeting is a unique day out – a great mix of people, horses, racing, picnics and fresh air – taking place in some of the most stunning British countryside. You’ll see a real cross-section of people; some participating, some watching, some knowledgeable and some completely inexperienced. It’s a great way to enjoy family days out and get-togethers with friends, bring your own picnic & fizz to have by the car or buy them on course. If you’ve ever been to an under rules race-course you’ll find most of the same facilities at a p2p course, but on a far less formal and more casual level. You park your car right next to the course, pop the boot, enjoy your picnic and watch the action. You can bring your dog, walk the course, stand by the fences to get even closer to the racing, see the horses in the parade ring or winners enclosure and have a bet if you fancy your chances. Alongside the bookies you’ll find bars and food outlets and at larger meetings stalls, trader areas, sponsors tents, clothes stands, marquees, pony racing, dog-shows, children’s areas and even fun-fairs. As most fixtures are between January and June you’ll get to dress up or down and enjoy the changing seasons and best and worst of the British weather – so you’ll need everything from warm winter wear and waterproofs in winter to shorts and t shirts in summer!
Cheltenham Racecourse, famous for the 4 day Cheltenham Festival is the home of jump racing and only 20 miles from Fern Farm. It hosts just one evening meeting each year, dedicated purely to p2p. Throughout the season qualification races and competitions take place at p2p meetings across the country with the winners qualifying for the Cheltenham race evening, one of the highlights of the season. Taking place in May it’s usually bathed in late spring sunshine with a unique atmosphere as many people gather to celebrate the sport and all the best horses.
Visit the Weatherby’s point to point website here for all the news, information and fixtures.