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Point-to-Point is both a throwback to how racing was two centuries ago, and a thriving modern sport for amateur enthusiasts. Races are generally run over steeplechase courses of 3 miles with at least two with ditches among the obstacles, though for some younger horses shorter distances are programmed, and a few of the bigger and long established events are contested over up to 4 miles. Prize money is limited, £300 being the norm, and owners and riders are in the game for pleasure not profit.
While horses (with a few exceptions for specific races) have to be thoroughbreds, many of them after their time in professional racing, they must also be certified as having hunted on at least four days in that season; all of the meetings are indeed organised by local Hunts, to raise money for that pastime, and to keep the riders and the ridden fit.
There are more than 100 Point-to-Point courses in Britain, most on farmland without the benefit of stands, though a few National Hunt courses like Fakenham and Hexham also stage Point-to-Points. But the soul of the sport is at places like Larkhill in Wiltshire , Whittington in Lancashire , Wadebridge in Cornwall and Bitterley in Shropshire . Itís a chilly weather season so more Barbour than Bill Blass, and plenty of call on the bar for stimulants. Point-to-Pointing is also a rather democratic, inclusive hobby, a world away from Royal Ascot Ė though some seen in green wellies and flat cap in a farmerís field will be noted later in topper and tails in the Royal Enclosure.

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Absences are a good influence in love and keep it bright and delicate. - Robert Louis Stevenson
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On this day:
Battle of Lostwithiel - 1644, Battle of Dunkeld - 1689
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