Crash. Splat and I’m on my knees in the mud. Rain bounces off my glistening waterproofs as I struggle to keep my cameras out of the brown stuff. It’s all part of point-to-pointing as any jockey, owner or spectator will tell you and for me it’s all in a day’s work.
Occasionally I have a reality check – usually when I’ve been standing alone in a remote part of a course in the pouring rain. What am I doing here? The answer is of course that once pointing gets into your blood it’s there forever – and we all love it. It really is a shared experience. For me every single person at a point-to-point meeting is part of the huge production. We’re all extras in the four hour movie. Not everyone has a speaking part but from the horny handed farmer to the titled toff, from the bright young things to the crumpled pensioners – at the races everyone has an equally important role to play. My job is to witness and record this unique occasion.
For the past three years I had the good fortune to be employed by AGA who sponsor the Ladies’ Open race series. Up and down the county I travelled and though the action took place at weekends in reality it became a full time job. Quite often the weekend began with a long drive on Friday and rarely ended until Monday, or in the case of Bank Holidays, Tuesday evening. Sometimes the careful planning would go adrift and on one occasion after I had driven north to Darlington on the Friday I awoke to the sound of heavy rain. Things looked bad and it wasn’t long before I got the call from AGA boss, David Simpson, to say the meeting was off – adding that we perhaps should cover the Ladies’ race at Dingley instead – a three hour drive away. With the wipers going double speed I hurtled down the A1 passing Leeds, Doncaster, Chesterfield and so on until I eventually reached Dingley – just in time for the Ladies’ race. That evening I travelled back north to Knutsford for the meeting at Tabley Hall the following day and by the time I got back to Dorset late on Sunday the mileage was showing just under 1000 for the ‘weekend’.
I suppose everyone dreams of writing a book. Little did I know when I first bumped into journalist Carl Evans at the Bournemouth Echo that the dream might come true. The Racing Post were already publishing my pictures and when Carl moved there we quietly hatched out a plan to publish our own point to point book. Apart from the famous Mackenzie & Selby annual there was nothing else out there. But what about a title? I thought we should call it the ‘Big Book of point to point racing’ – as the M&S was only pocket size. Carl suggested the word ‘green’ should be in there somewhere and so our book became the Big Green Annual. In truth, our enthusiasm was way ahead of our technical know-how and though we beavered away tirelessly we ended up with a modest soft-backed book that received a fairly luke-warm reception. Carl knew a flop when he saw one but I was too stubborn to admit defeat and set about learning desk-top publishing from A to Z. There have been many ups and downs along the way but the fourteenth Big Green Annual was published on 14th November this year.