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Point-to-point


Point to Point is the term used to describe a form of horse racing and jumping, usually over three miles, usually affiliated to a Hunt Club, which is incredibly popular in Britain. There are a number of types of race, which depend on the rider, the age of the horse, the length of the course and the number of jumps. The main types of races you will see at Point-to-Points are: Club Members; Confined; Hunt Members; Intermediate; Ladies’ Open; Maiden; Men’s Open; Mixed Open and Restricted.  There can be additional factors to some races, typically the age or gender of the horses (e.g. Mares Maiden Race or 4, 5, 6 & 7-year-old Maiden Race). There can also be Rider restrictions, such as a Club Members Race for Veteran and Novice Riders, whilst Confined races are restricted to horses qualified with certain Hunts. Meetings can schedule up to seven races – this can change on the day though, as declarations are made on the day of the meeting so, unlike racing under Rules, if a race is subscribed beyond its Safety Factor it can be divided, thus increasing the number of races. Typically they are run at 30-40 minute intervals.
Point-to-Point Regulations in the UK require all races to be run over about three miles, although there are exceptions. Maiden races for younger horses (aged between four and seven) can be run over shorter distances (mostly 2m4f – 2m6f). A 3m race is usually two circuits of a typical Point-to-Point course although there are one or two exceptions. Every course must have a minimum number of fences and at least two fences must have ditches (usually one fence that is jumped twice).
The weight carried by the horse depends on the age and gender of the horse; in simple terms (excluding any penalties – see below) the top weight carried will be 12st5lb or 12st (11st in Ladies) although there are quite complicated rules about weight and certain weights carry penalties. .A penalty is an additional amount of weight allotted to a horse, in certain types of races, based on what they have previously won. The basis of this system is to penalise horses that have performed well before to theoretically try to give each horse in the race a fairer chance of winning. It is a form of handicapping. The races are usually run by as many as 18 riders, for a maiden race and 20 for other races, although Safety Factors vary in accordance with race type and can be different at each course.
In Point-to-Pointing the levels of prize money are much lower than in National Hunt or Flat racing. In Open races (Men’s, Ladies or Mixed) the total amount of prize money cannot be more than £500, and in all other races, no more than £300. However, there are some significant races, known as National or Area Classics, which can be worth up to £1,000.
The point to point rules say that the fences should be approximately 4 feet 3 inches high and be made of birch, broom or spruce. On the whole they are at least 10 yards in width. The first fence in any race must be not less than 14 yards wide.
Point-to-Point meetings are run by a Hunt or Hunt Club and the organisers are all volunteers who give their time and energy for free in order to raise money for the Hunt.
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