I have never actually known exactly what a point-to-point is (I know it’s a horse race, but that’s about it). I looked it up and it turns out a point-to-point is a horse race for hunting horses and amateur riders. The name ‘point-to-point’ originates from the first of such races, run in Country Cork. A Mr Blake 🏇 challenged his neighbour Mr O’Callaghan 🏇 to race across country from Buttevant church ⛪️ to Doneraile church ⛪️, jumping anything that got in the way – stone walls, ditches and hedges. They kept the steeple of the church at the finish in sight and this is where we get both ‘steeplechase’ and ‘point-to-point’ from, as they were chasing from ‘steeple-to-steeple’ or ‘point-to-point’. Nowadays they race around a purpose built race track – those pesky motorways, barbed wire fences and proud landowners don’t really allow to horses races between church steeples. But there is still one left in the UK that is run under the original conditions – the New Forest Boxing Day Point-to-Point, which gives you a start and a finish point, but allows you to chose your route – and sounds really rather fun.
It was a lovely day out, with a few Sat Nav mishaps (there is a place called Parham in Suffolk, not helpful) and a quick stop at Mcdonalds on the way (we had a few hungover participants), we arrived to enjoy a glorious day watching the horses.
There is something so reassuring about turning up to a proper countryside event – horses, barbours, tweed, muddy wells, dogs galore, every landrover in the county parked precariously in the mud and a slightly comical commentator. And the nicest thing is, it’s not too showy. Yes there are some red trousers, and the prosecco clutching young man wearing a white designer jumper possibly got the wrong memo (this is pony club, not a flashy polo match), and there were some slightly obnoxiously shiny landrovers. But really most people seemed very content pottering about in their non-designer tweed, wellies and flat caps, with their spaniels and terriers on leads, just enjoying the sunshine and the races.
It was a glorious day.