The first of December saw the opening of the Point-to-point season, which runs until mid-June next year and takes place all over the country and not least in and close to the High Weald AONB at Penshurst, Charing, Godstone, and Aldington.
This season there are 192 fixtures (known as meetings) at courses throughout the country in places as far north as Balcormo Mains in Fife and as far south as Trebudannon in Cornwall.
The majority of these meetings will be held on the weekends and many of the Point-to-point racecourses are located in beautiful surroundings, which complement the special and unique fabric of the sport enjoying strong support from the local communities and bringing together both enthusiasts and casual visitors from far and wide.
What is Point-to-point Racing?
The British Horseracing Authority writes that "the sport of Point-to-point racing is Steeple Chase racing for amateur riders, on horses that have qualified to run by having been out hunting. The origins of the sport can be traced back to riders racing their hunters from one church steeple to another over natural countryside, and jumping whatever obstacles crossed their path.
The sport has evolved somewhat over the years and these days horses competing are thoroughbreds, other than in Hunt Members races, and run at organised meetings, over a designated course of fences, and as a regulated sport. Races are mainly run over a distance of 3 miles, and over steeple chase fences of approximately 4 feet 3 inches in height and made of birch. There are a few longer races (up to 4 miles) and a number of 2 ½ mile races for maiden horses."
When and where can you go to a Point-to-point meeting in or close to the High Weald AONB?
There are a number of fixtures for 2014, which are listed below but for the latest news and further information on these meeting dates, locations of the racecourses, entries, and results visit the official Point-to-Point website. The full fixture list for the whole country can be seen at here: View the full 2013/14 fixture list and should you find you're hooked on this exciting rural sport, there is a free online newsletter called Go Pointing which will give you all the information you need ahead of the forthcoming weekend's meetings. In subscribing, you will receive details including admission prices, time of the first race, number of races and how to get there.
23 February - South East Hunt Club at Charing, Kent
9th March - Mid Surrey Farmers Drag at Godstone, Surrey
22 March - Crawley & Horsham at Parham, Sussex
30 March – Southdown & Eridge at Godstone, Surrey
6 April – East Sussex & Romney Marsh at Charing, Kent
12 April – Old Surrey, Burstow & West Kent at Penshurst, Kent
19 April – Ashford Valley at Charing, Kent
21 April – East Kent at Aldington, Kent
26 April – Chiddingfold, Leconfield & Cowdray at Parham, Sussex
3 May – Surrey Union at Peper Harrow, Surrey