British point-to-pointing’s popularity is underlined by fantastic backing from a wide range of national sponsors in the season ahead.
Leading brand names are among these sponsors, including iconic car manufacturer Subaru, which is involved for the first time – its range of vehicles fits perfectly with point-to-pointing’s theme of quality sport in the countryside.
The company is backing a series of races for horses at restricted level, culminating in a hunter chase final at Stratford. Paul Tunnicliffe, managing director of I M Group (UK), parent of the Subaru brand, says: “Subaru trades on its reputation as a vehicle for people who live and work in the countryside. Our ‘Subarural life’ credentials sit very appropriately with the sport, and this association will help our dealers to integrate into local communities. We look forward to generating interest in the sport and our vehicles.”
Cheltenham racecourse will again play host to the hunter chase final of Connolly’s RED MILLS’ intermediate series of point-to-points. UK business development manager Derek Fallon says: “We are delighted to be entering our eighth year as sponsors of the intermediate series, which has become an integral part of our UK marketing campaign. It sits well alongside our hurdle series and sponsorship of the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes, and highlights our commitment to the UK racing industry.”
Famous oven manufacturer AGA Rangemaster Group is back for a fifth year, but with a change of format – the company is now backing a wide range of races, plus championships for owners and women riders. David Simpson, the company’s commercial business development manager, says: “It’s a perfect time to widen our net because we have a product portfolio that includes a ‘new generation’ of electric cookers, and this exciting change of direction enables us to engage with a wider audience within the sport.”
The Jockey Club is backing 19 races for maiden mares at venues around Britain. Scott Bowers, Group Director of Communications at The Jockey Club, says: “We exist for the good of British racing, and we recognise point-to-pointing is not only a fantastic sport in its own right, but also important to the grass roots of horse racing. The pyramid has to be strong.”
Mares races are also a theme for the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, whose CEO, Louise Kemble, says: “We are looking forward to this renewed sponsorship. Our goal is to ensure we provide more opportunities for mares and a boost to the grassroots level of the sport, so we are delighted to be increasing our support from eight to ten races this year.”
Megan Nicholls, the daughter of multiple champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls, won last year’s Dodson & Horrell PPORA novice riders’ series final, and later made the point that the series provides an opportunity for “young riders to aim at a final at the start of their career.” Sam Horrell, marketing director for the feed manufacturer, says: “I am looking forward to a new season and meeting some of our loyal customers who support and participate in the sport of point-to-pointing.”
World-renowned auction house Bonhams, specialists in fine arts and antiques, is backing 21 men’s open races, plus a hunter chase final at Cheltenham. Head of Marketing, David Johnson says: “We are delighted to broaden our sponsorship of the men’s open series to include an additional race in 2015. The championship continues to be an excellent platform for Bonhams’ nationwide network of offices, which offers local access to the flourishing international fine art market.”
A growing trend for proving young horses in point-to-points and then offering them for sale at public auction has led to auctioneers Doncaster Bloodstock Sales backing a bumper (National Hunt Flat race) for point-to-pointers at Aintree on May 15. Director Tim Kent says: “This is an exciting concept that can provide a goal for breeders, owners, point-to-point trainers and riders. Horses in Ireland often run in point-to-points ahead of a bumper opportunity and we are sure it is a model that will work well in Britain.”
In Devon and Cornwall, Exeter Racecourse are kindly continuing their Intermediate series with a hunter chase final at Exeter on Ladies’ night in the spring. Qualifiers are being held at the Black Forest Club, Tiverton Foxhounds, Weston, South Pool Harriers, East Cornwall, East Devon, Dulverton Farmers, Lamerton Spooners & West Dartmoor, and Eggesford point-to-points.
Clare Hazell – Point-to-Point Authority 01285 841920 firstname.lastname@example.org