Garthorpe point-to-points in 2021

You may wondering what is happening with our fixtures for the coming season. I  hope that we can explain how we plan to run Garthorpe this coming season and hopefully you will continue to support us.

Following the abandonment of all point-to-pointing back in the Spring when the initial Covid lockdown was introduced, the 2020/21 season started earlier than usual a few weeks ago with racing behind closed doors (BCD). 

However, after two weekends of racing, the latest lockdown brought an end to amateur racing for the time being. Hopefully the sport can continue once lockdown has been eased although it is likely that there will be restrictions imposed by the Government, Public Health England and the Local Authorities. 

Some Hunts/Point-to-Points have already declared they will not run at all this season with others saying they will not run without crowds/paying public. 

There has been quite a lot of discussion as to how we manage the Garthorpe meetings for this season with many potential negatives, unusual risks and Covid concerns all making budgeting and the chances of breaking even less than ideal.

The last time the sport was halted back in 2001 it marked the start of a significant decline in horses being qualified for pointing. We are now (last few seasons) at less than half the numbers qualified twenty years ago with the average decline (pre-Covid) being 5% per season. Therefore, it is vital that for the future of the sport that point-to-pointing is kept going for the 2020/21 season despite all the ‘curved balls’ of Covid.    

After much deliberation it was agreed that Team Garthorpe will do their best to run all five meetings in a collective way to keep ‘the show on the road’. As a premier venue, we feel we need to lead by example. and to keep racing in 2021 for the good of the sport and the horsemen and women! 

Clearly some dates will work better for entries/runners and some for Covid or the weather so collectively we will share the ‘pain’ and possibly benefit from any ‘gain’.

Our intention is to ensure that having completed the season – with or without paying public - we have, at worst, broken even. Our ambition is to ensure that these meetings are put on for the sport at no cost to the planned host hunts as none can currently sustain any losses. If Covid, the Government, MFHA and the Sport our kind to us we might have some funds available to invest back in Garthorpe or for the Hunts.

To give us some confidence to move forward we have secured, through John Chatfield-Roberts – Garthorpe Chairman, a ‘backer/sponsor’ that makes this possible but that support is subject to us putting all five meetings on – weather permitting.

To ensure all meetings are run in a fully Covid Compliant way along with all the other expectations we will be pooling our resources and expertise throughout the season with Team Garthorpe taking the responsibility and liability rather than the individual Hunts. Indeed, in an ideal world, to enhance the wider approach we would like to refer to the meetings as:

Garthorpe 1Sunday 28th February
Garthorpe 2Sunday 21st March
Garthorpe 3Saturday 24th April
Garthorpe 4Sunday 23rd May
Garthorpe 5Saturday 5th June
Proposed 2021 fixtures at Garthorpe

Team Garthorpe will operate on a pooled basis with many of the jobs being done by the same people over multiple meetings. (One of my fellow secretaries may contact you rather than me) We may be asked to discuss alternative dates if such work for Garthorpe and the sport at large depending on the available horse population

Each hunt will have to play their part in the collective preparation, planning and delivery of the five meetings. This will, no doubt, involve a few of us doing quite a bit at the five meetings but it should be a lesser burden to the whole Hunt. With streaming of the racing planned we will need to seek as much commercial support as possible – there will be no racecards but plenty of Advertising Boards. Paying public will be a bonus if/when allowed but for February and March we are anticipating being restricted to racing BCD, with officials and a few owners in attendance all wearing MASKS.

Stay safe and I look forward to seeing you in 2021.

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