Category Archives: Training

Jockey coaching with Rodi Greene Wednesday 6th May – spaces available

Jockey coaching with Rodi Greene Wednesday 6th May 6pm-9pm. PPORA members free of charge!!! Based in Wellington – call Abi on 01789 415598 if interested.

PPA Race Programming Survey


The Point-To-Point Authority have created a survey for those interested in point-to-point Race Programming, and are inviting people involved in the sport to take a couple of minutes to take part in the survey. The survey features questions on prize money, maximum weights, ideal trip, hunt races, intermediate races, and winners from the flat, etc.

Note you will be presented with slightly different questions depending on whether you are an Owner, Trainer/Keeper, Rider, Owner/Rider, Official (eg Steward/Judge/Vet/Secretary), or Other (please specify). I also believe you can only submit responses for one role, so choose your primary role.

The survey can be accessed at:



Published on on 17 January 2015

Point-to-Point riders are to be offered advice from former professional jockeys as part of the British Horseracing Authority’s Jockey Coaching Programme (JCP).
A series of workshops run by former professional jockeys are being put together, and while initially set up to benefit conditional and apprentice jockeys, the BHA has recognised the importance of including amateur and point-to-point riders. An increasing number of young people – many having ridden in pony races – are now spending a season or two point-to-pointing before turning professional. Sean Bowen, who has made such an impact as a conditional jockey this season, is a prime example.

Gill Greeves, the BHA’s vocational training manager, says: “The very successful BHA Jockey Coaching Programme is growing from strength to strength with the recent launch of Regional Coaching Workshops. For an introductory period we are pleased to invite point-to-point riders to join this exciting new initiative – receiving expert tuition and advice from professional coaches can only benefit them, and I am sure amateur riders will gain by attending one of these workshops.”

The workshops will review and enhance technical and tactical skills, discuss fitness and nutrition and evaluate race-riding skills. A fee of £10 will apply, but the Point-to-Point Owners’ & Riders’ Association (PPORA) will pick up the cost for its members.
This opportunity follows recent news that a ‘concussion bounty’ – a grant of £80 towards a new helmet following a concussive fall – offered to professional jockeys has been extended to point-to-point riders, and is another initiative generated by the Point-to-Point Authority (PPA) with support from the BHA.

Clare Hazell of the PPA, said: “We are grateful to the BHA as this is another positive step for the sport and validates the skill and professionalism required to be a successful rider, regardless of point-to-pointing’s amateur status. The standard of horsemanship has naturally improved over the years and this new initiative will take us forward again. I’m sure many riders will take up the opportunity to work alongside former professionals and learn techniques that will help them before and during a race.”

Two dates for the JCP workshops have been confirmed – at the British Racing School, Newmarket, on January 27 (6 – 9pm) with Michael Tebbutt, and at the Northern Racing College, Doncaster, on February 5 (4 – 7pm) with Tom O’Ryan.

Riders should contact Jennie Durrans on 01638 665103 or

Further information can be obtained from the Point-to-Point Authority, tel: 01285 841920; email:
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News : General : Weatherbys Point-to-Point.


19 November 2014

The British Racing School has been working with the Point-to-Point Authority to launch a training scheme for budding point-to-point riders as an enhancement to its current one-day training courses.

Aimed at competent riders with plenty of jumping experience but who have not yet ridden in races, the course will be staged over six to eight Sunday morning sessions at the British Racing School’s headquarters in Newmarket. It will also feature optional visits to local point-to-point meetings at Higham and Ampton, including a supervised course walk, following the morning’s riding and schooling sessions.

The course will provide riders with the chance to school over steeplechase fences and ride work, while other highlights will include a talk on buying a racehorse by bloodstock agent and point-to-point commentator Matt Coleman, plus simulator training and video reviews of each rider in action.

Commenting on the proposal, British Racing School Finance Director and point-to-point rider Andrew Braithwaite, said: “We currently run a Pony Racing Academy for young riders at the British Racing School and our wish is to build on this idea by formulating a course for adult riders who wish to compete in point-to-points but work outside horseracing and lack race-riding experience.

“In addition to riding training, the course will include fitness assessments, briefings on rules and regulations and the required tack and equipment. Our aim is to be able to give true amateur riders the chance to see if point-to-pointing is for them.”

Thanks to the generous backing of the Point-to-Point Authority, all riders who complete the course will be granted a free riders qualification certificate for either the 2014/15 or 2015/16 season offering a saving of £200.

The proposed fee for the Point-to-Point Academy course, which would be run from February 2015, is £350. Interested parties should contact Andrew Braithwaite ( or Clare Higgins ( at the British Racing School via email or on 01638 665103.

Trainer Feature: Maria Lewis

The great thing about point to pointing is that there are many trainers out there with just one or two horses. Donna Harris has been going behind the scenes to find out who they are and how they get their horses fit. Here is the first spotlight feature – Maria Lewis

Point to Point trainer Maria Lewis is based on the Devon and Cornwall border, at the Lamerton Hunt Kennels, where she lives with Huntsman husband David, and daughter Heidi.

She started riding at an early age at her local riding school and by the age of 11, had found a mucking out job at a local stables, where she was able to ride out in return for her labour. She attended the odd local show on any spare pony she could find. By the age of 14, Maria was offered many other horses and ponies to ride, until her parents moved to Devon, to a property with land, so she could have her own horses.

Once Maria started hunting, she met David. “He was the whipper-in to the Mid-Devon Foxhounds.  David loved his racing, and I was soon hooked on Point-to-Point,” stated Maria

The couple were soon married, and had Heidi, who  “was hunting at the age of 15 months, on her Shetland, and by nine, started pony racing, on a pony we bought called ‘Double Trouble’. By then we were all completely hooked!”

Heidi now works at Richard and Kayley Woollacott’s yards and is just starting on her third season as a point to point rider. Maria has never race ridden but she deeply admires and envies those who do, and wishes she had had the chance. “With Heidi involved in point to points at work, and having graduated from pony racing, it seemed natural for us to train pointers for her,” Maria said.

Her philosophy on training, is to keep all her horses out in the field as long as possible –  they are worked from the field until the weather turns. Once in, they are always turned out for half an hour per day. “I believe in a lot of walk exercise – we’re lucky that we are surrounded by hills, which really make them work. I am lucky that I have David, and between us we step up their fitness, and once the horses are up and fit to go, they go hunting fairly regularly until just after Christmas. Canter work starts in a large field, and then moves onto the Moors. We live close to Emma and Dean Summersby, who kindly let me use their schooling fences whenever I want. Heidi comes home to school them when she can, and we also have the option to loose school at Cholwell Equestrian Centre.”

The Lewis’s work hard, with their day normally starting at 6am, with Maria feeding, mucking out the two pointers and three hunters, whilst David is on kennel duties with the hounds. They both then exercise the hounds. “I exercise the three hunters, whilst David collects the fallen stock, a service this hunt still provides to the farmers. We then take the pointers in the lorry to the moors and gallop, wash them off and come home.”  The couple then deal with the fallen stock, after which David does kennel duties and Maria grooms and beds up the horses for the night.

Last season they had Tres Bien and Kawana Cove in training. “Tres Bien we had for Heidi for Novice Riders races, he ran honestly and gave his all, being a schoolmaster, he knew his job and taught both Heidi and us a lot during the season. He gave us some tense moments and a couple of placings which will not be forgotten. Tres Bien has moved on to a new home with Tash Dickinson as a schoolmaster. We are looking forward to seeing Tash have her first ride, and hope she enjoys him as much as we did.”

Kawana Cove had a few problems at the start of last season, which the team had to sort out. “He is a horse that needs firmer ground, which we didn’t really get until the end of the season. The trouble was he needed to run – we had a good fourth at Flete Park, which seemed to be the start of a better spell for him – followed up by a third at Upcott Cross in very wet ground, and a fourth at Bratton Down, where he stayed on well up the hill.”

At Umberleigh, with the firmer ground, Jamie Thomas took the ride on Kawana Cove, as Heidi had taken her yard ride on Pasternak Jack who is trained by Kayley Woollacott. Maria had been invited to watch the race from Jeff Guyett’s filming tower, and could hardly contain her excitement as the race unfolded with both her daughter and home trained horse both going well.  Kawana Cove gave the Lewis’s their first winner, with Pasternak Jack second with Heidi on board.

Kawana Cove is staying in training this season.Their new addition to the yard is Nudge The Nugget, a maiden who ran consistently last term. “We are looking forward to seeing what he has to offer, and he will be Heidi’s ride,” added Maria.

The team are delighted to have had support in the sponsorship of  Kawana Cove from Dartmoor Windows & Conservatories in Okehampton.

Maria prides herself with the turnout of the pointers: “I like to see horses turned out to a high standard, and have had my fair share of turnout prizes. The turnout money normally ends up back in the diesel tank!”

“I have an excellent race day team of my husband David, who I couldn’t do this without (he is also the lorry driver), our jockeys Heidi Lewis and Jamie Thomas. Sarah Ford is my right arm on a racing day, and she reads me like a book! David’s mum Margaret and sister Caroline are in charge of food and drink and David’s dad Gilmore makes sure they don’t forget anything. I would like to thank our farrier Steve Craddock who keeps the horses’ feet in good order, equine physio Katherine Davis who makes sure everything is moving properly and  Bill Lomas. horse dentist. We are very grateful to sponsors Dartmoor Windows & Conservatories of Okehampton and the Kelly family for the loan of Shadow on race days as travelling companion.”


Trainer feature: Neil and Keri Harris

Winners pop up regularly from Neil and Keri Harris’s yard near Brompton Regis, Dulverton where they have two stables at the house and five more in a rented yard nearby.

Neil got involved in point to point racing when he joined Mike Trickey at the age of 18, breaking in horses.

Neil said: “Mike gave me my first ride at the age of about 21 on Anna’s Spirit. My first winner was Size Hill (for Mike) about two season’s later. I had no background in horses but I started riding my uncle’s ponies when I was about 16. I loved my hunting though and would often bunk off school and go out with the Tiverton Foxhounds on my motorbike!”

Neil became a very successful amateur jockey and, of his 246 career wins, around 200 were between the flags.

Keri has ridden since she was two years old and had her first ride in a point at 16 on her own horse Oneovertheight. She rode for a couple of seasons with some success but didn’t put her racing boots back on after foot and mouth disease called a halt to the sport in 2001.

The Harris philosophy on training is to work hard  and to try and keep a very open mind. Neil said: “There are no set rules and you never stop learning. If you can’t give it 100 per cent you might as well stay in bed.

Their training regime is far from strait-forward and very much based around their young family so it varies a bit from day to day according to what child care they have.

They have two boys, Luke, 5, and Charlie, 9 months. Keri added :”In the morning, one of us goes out and feeds/ mucks out while the other gets the boys fed, dressed and sorted for the day. Luke catches the bus at the end of the drive to school, which is great. As for Charlie, we are lucky enough to have our families to help us look after him while we go and ride some horses!”

“On a run of the mill day, we do a couple of lots for Jeremy or Camilla Scott and then get our own ridden out and done up before putting our parent hats back on again! Fortunately a few of Jeremy’s staff (including point to point jockeys Vicki Wade and Tom Humphries) will come and ride a lot for us in their lunch break when we are pushed.”

The Harris’s try to both be home with the boys by 4pm, then, after tea one of them will go and finish up the horses while the other does bath and bedtime duties. At least that the plan!

The couple mainly have young horses in training as they love bringing on youngsters and seeing them go on to do bigger and better things, so they tend to have a lot of new faces each season.

However, this season they are very pleased to have What About Will back in for Keith Wade. The horse spent a lot of last season under the weather with a virus so did well to get a close second and a win from his four runs. He has plenty more to come and, with a clean of health, he shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding his way back to the winners’ enclosure.

King of Alcatraz ran admirably in ground that he hated for most of last season, and ran arguably his career best in the ladies’ hunter chase at Cheltenham. Amazingly after three years, the Harris’s are still learning about him. He has been a smashing horse for his owner Roy Smith who has been incredibly loyal and supportive. Neil and Keri look forward to having the horse back in the spring.

Keri said: “We also have the pleasure of Jump to the Beat joining us again for our dear friends Jenny and Roger Perry. She is a big strapping mare from the family of Ambion Wood and had two educational runs last season. Having summered well back with the Perrys, she should really make her presence felt in a maiden in the new year.”

Of the newcomers, they have Paul Gillbard’s  home-bred 3yr old by With the Flow, a half brother to Alright John and Cadeaux George, both of whom won their maidens from the yard before going on to win for their new connections.

The couple also bought a couple of stores out in Ireland this Summer,  both of which they are very pleased with and the plan is to run them in maidens before selling them on at the end of the season.

With the odd one in to pre train they will have a pretty full house!

Keri said :” We are very lucky to have established a strong support team, without whom we would not be able to function at all. As already mentioned,our families are always at hand to help with the boys. Jeremy and Camilla Scott are very generous in allowing us to use their facilities, which are excellent, and offer help and advice along the way. The horses get first class care and attention from our farrier Ed Menon, and vets Phil Browne and Tom Gliddon at White lodge in Minehead.

Trainer Feature: Rose Loxton

Rose Loxton, who finished the season as the National Connolly’s Red Mills Trainer Champion (training seven horses or less) with a total of 17 wins, is based deep in the heart of Somerset at Whaddon Farm in the village of Bruton, writes Donna Harris.

She also has a full time job as assistant head lass for Paul Nicholls, whose Ditcheat yard is six miles away and, with her husband Sam, also runs a beef suckler herd, on 130 acres of hilly land, ideal for training racehorses.

Loxton originated from the west coast of Ireland, by the sea in County Galway, where she rode as a child and hunted with the Galway Blazers and the North Galway hounds. She said: “I worked at a flat racing yard on the Curragh, some 30 years ago. That’s where I met an English guy called Sam, came over to the UK on holiday and never returned. We were soon married. Sam used to ride point to point and rode a couple of winners. In the early days we had a dairy farm and milked cows.”

The couple now have three children, Martina, 28, Freddie, 26 and Polly, 24. Rose has a granddaughter, Millie Rose, and is delighted that her son Freddie is also due to give her another grandchild soon.

While her children did not really take to riding, Loxton had a hunter, Oslot, which she trained to have two seconds and a win at Bratton in 2012 under Leanda Tickle, after he had won a hunter chase. But the horse sadly fractured his shoulder in a hunting accident. “I was all set to give up training,” Loxton explained. “I just couldn’t face it, but then Paul Nicholls offered me a horse called Gwanako, who had lost his way in the National Hunt races, having previously won eight chases and five hurdle races. Paul was looking for a schoolmaster for his daughter Megan to graduate from pony racing onto point to point and I agreed to give him a go.”

“Sam helps me feed and muck out at 6.15am. I travel over to Ditcheat, help out there and come back to ride out at lunchtime. Gemma Groves rides Gwanako out every day come rain, hail or snow. I couldn’t do it without her or Sam. I would also like to thank all the owners for giving me the opportunity, and especially Paul who has also taught me the knack of how to keep a fit horse ticking over and staying fit.”

The Loxton’s farmland is an ideal location for training horses in a quiet environment, with more than 100 acres to ride around, plenty of hills to work up, and regular daily turn out, Gwanako soon started to enjoy his work again. Loxton was able to use Paul’s gallops to gauge how well he was coming on. She said: “I would think he would be blowing a bit up the hills, but when I took him to the gallops, he started to fly up them.”

Gwanako gave Megan her first point to point ride at the Cornwall Hunt Club meeting at Wadebridge in December. The pre-Christmas meeting always has a buzzy atmosphere, with an indoor market and plenty of spectators enjoying the fresh winter air. Loxton said: “We could hardly watch. We were really worried, as the conditions became a bit slippery after a shower of rain. I hadn’t wanted Gwanako to be too fit for Megan’s first ride, I just wanted him not to over jump and for them both to get around safely. Paul was there and we were both worried that if Gwanako and Megan had a fall, it could put them both off racing.” But they were delighted with the result, four lengths second to the prolific winning Byerley Bear. Megan had ridden a steady race in the sticky conditions, and had made an effort to catch Byerley Bear over the last.

Gwanako, owned by the Stewart family, went on to clock up six consecutive wins in Ladies’ Opens, and the combination were unlucky to finish second at Kingston Blount to Ravethebrave, having led until two out, which ended their winning streak.

The Loxton string is completed by two other horses – Join Together owned by Wendy Fogg, and the youngest on the yard and Current Event jointly owned by J Gane. I Fogg and Paul Nicholls.
Join Together, a nine year old gelding, is previous winner of two novice chases at Cheltenham in 2011, and a hurdle race. He had lost his form but was, this season, unbeaten in six points, three in the Devon and Cornwall Area. “His Bratton Down win was one of my favourite moments this season,” Loxton claimed proudly. “Megan led over the last, and drew clear up the hill to win by six lengths.” The horse could be targeted at the Cheltenham Foxhunters next year.

Current Event also had good form behind him, with five chase wins and a hurdle victory but seemed to have lost his confidence after running over Aintree fences. On his first outing pointing with Megan, he fell at the seventh fence at Paxford. But with much TLC from Rose, he was back jumping well again, with a win two weeks later at Little Windsor, in the Novice Riders’ race. The combination went on to win five consecutive races, which included two D&C Area meetings, Upcott Cross and Bratton Down.

The three horses saw Megan Nicholls win the National Ladies’ Novice Riders’ title, the Princess Royal Trophy (national lady novice riders U21), the Devon & Cornwall Ladies’ title, the Wessex Area Ladies’ title, the Wessex Novice title and a third place in the National Ladies’ title – not bad for a first season! Rose intends to continue to support and travel to the Devon & Cornwall Area meetings

Megan’s aspirations for the coming season are to bid for the national ladies’ point to point title. She said: “Rose has done a fabulous job with the horses. They looked great and ran amazingly last season. I will have, hopefully, two extra runners next season, based with Jack Barber – Aerial and Prospect Wells.”

Thank you to Tracy Roberts of for the photograph of Join Together and Tim Holt for the photograph of Current Event.

Feature: Robert Chanin

Point-to-Point racehorse trainer Robert Chanin was awarded the Western Morning News Trophy for Performance of the season at Devon & Cornwall Point to Point Association Awards Dinner and Dance, writes Donna Harris.

In his best ever season, Chanin, whose training yard is at Thorverton in Mid Devon, also enjoyed an impressive seven consecutive winners from eight runners between Wadebridge and Chipley Park.

The purple patch started with a double at Wadebridge with Welstonedruid and Byerley Bear in December, and continued at the next Wadebridge meeting, with Byerley Bear, followed by a treble at Black Forest Lodge in January – courtesy of Welstonedruid, under jockey and son Ian Chanin, Byerley Bear ridden by Leanda Tickle, and  Ned White, piloted by eldest son Tom.

Chanin’s next winner came was For The Staff at Chipley Park, Tiverton, but the run ended when Five Journeys pulled up at the same meeting. He went on to saddle 18 winners through the season, earning him equal fourth in the National trainers’ table and second in the area table, just three behind Ed Walker.

Speaking from his home, where he farms 100 acres between Thorverton and Bickleigh, having just harvested a good crop of hay before the weather changed, Chanin said: “I am highly pleased with the award, it is the first thing that I have ever won personally. I was very disappointed I could not make the Awards presentation to pick the trophy up.”

He added: “It is a team effort, Tom, Jade, Ian and Aimée, and I could not manage without the hard work of my wife Maureen, who does all the administration, entries, bills and accounts, and Rebecca Barnett who is our farrier and Ian’s fiancé. It was our best season ever.”

Asked what his secrets of training are, he replied: “Plenty of hard work by the team and the horses. We are lucky to have the hills through the Exe Valley where we do most of the training.”

Byerley Bear was crowned Leading Area Horse, and also won a dual control Aga for the points he earned in the ladies’ series sponsored by Aga, for his owner Roger Knowles. Chanin added:  “He has become something of a celebrity in our village. Mr Knowles donated 10 per cent of the horse’s winnings to help the locally-run village shop.”

“We are looking forward to the new season, which starts in November, and have agents looking for three new horses to join the yard. Tom and Ian will look through the form and bloodlines of horses offered to us before we take them on.”


Richard and Kayley Woollacott were delighted to be able to host their open day on August 10th, where over 140 people attended. The day started at Big Brook Park at noon, where they had started training Point to Point horses back in 2006. The yard has grown enormously, and the couple can boast that they have enjoyed training in excess of 150 winners out of this yard.

A breaking demonstration, followed the introductory welcome drinks and a tour of the yards facilities. Richard then demonstrated his Monty Roberts’ technique of breaking and loose schooling the youngsters, together with the help of two of their young jockeys, Jamie Thomas and Heidi Lewis. The team have been busy working hard on breaking the youngsters and assessing them for their future careers. They have lots of exciting new horses for the forthcoming Point to Point season, including Cinevator, Jepek who was third for Richard in a Bumper, and lots of older horses which will hopefully appear again this season, such as Allerford Jack and Parkham Jack. Wak A Turtle is another who will be returning from a lay off. Currently for sale, Turtle has been placed in two novice chases & they feel is perfect for the coming Point to Point season. The yard had several others with potential and looking for new owners including Le Clo De La Londe, a recent French import, previously placed second over hurdles.

Everyone was then invited back to the Nethercott yard for food and drink and a tour of some fabulous National Hunt horses, including Spa Hill, Liberty One, Kudu Shine, Millanisi Boy, Kruseman, Floresco and Silver Grove. The facilities at Nethercott Manor include various grass and all weather gallops, woodland rides, cross country jumping, indoor school, water treadmill, streams regular turnout, and they say most importantly fantastic staff, of which they employ five at both yards.

Their staff were out in force to help the day run smoothly, with all the teams  hard work being rewarded, and all those that attended, had a thoroughly lovely and informative day.