FEATURE: Clerk of Course at Black Forest Lodge Track, Kenton, Exeter

Norman Chanin has been a course builder for 30 years, which well qualifies him to be the current Clerk of the Course at Black Forest Lodge point to point track near Kenton, Exeter.

He has held this post for 14 years and admits that he could not do it without the generous help of his team of 10 volunteers.

Having had the experience of riding in 18 point to points, including his own bred-and-trained North Man and Holcombe Scar, he gained several seconds, but a race win eluded him. He also spent several days assisting his father John Chanin building the course at Lynch Farm, Thorverton, where many local point to point riders and trainers would turn out for a schooling session after racing, including international event rider Ginnie Leng (Holgate).

To get a point to point course up to scratch, work has to start at least six weeks before racing, when Norman, along with his team, spend five to six hours per day for a total of around 16 days preparing the fences and track.

Mike Mortimore does the birch cutting. “Birch is labour intensive,” states Norman, and added: “we have to pinch in the birch by hand, and re-do the fronts with greenery such as fir. There are also rails which need painting and the grass track is topped rolled and spiked.”

Lawrence Delve and hunt volunteers erect the running rails, paddock, number boards, car park ropes and road signs etc

At the end of the first meeting of this season at Black Forest Lodge, Norman was very pleased with the day and the going, saying: “We provided good going with a lovely grass cover, it helps with it not being grazed.”

Norman is also a course BHA course inspector at other tracks throughout the area, and will be busy back at BFL to get the course in tip top condition ready for the next meeting, a job which the whole team are passionate about.

“As Clerk of the Course I am a cog in a massive wheel. To put on a point to Point the following are crucial and the success of the day depends on them.”

Car & lorry gateway stewards                                Doctors

Car & lorry parking                                                  Vets

Tractor drivers                                                         Secretaries

Race card sellers                                                      Treasurer

Paddock Stewards                                                    Sponsorship secretary

Site Manager                                                             Hospitality tent

Fence Attendants                                                      Declarations

Starters                                                                      Clerk of scales

Official stewards                                                      Number cloths

Mounted horse catchers                                           Announcer

Judge                                                                         Valet

Time keeper                                                               Bar staff

Farrier                                                                        Catering

Fence repair team                                                      Official drivers

Paramedics                                                                Horse ambulance

Commentator                                                            Bookies