May 9, 2017
Horseheath Point to Point
It’s strange but I’ve lived in the wilds of North Hertfordshire for more than 35 years and, in all that time, I’d never been to a Point to Point meeting. In fact, I guess that I’d not actually looked at/viewed/visited many real rural events since escaping the increasingly fraught atmosphere of North London.
I had gone a number of times across to Newmarket racecourse and had some great outings over there. My father in law had an interest in flat racing and was always useful for a tip or two, even if the best one was ‘when in doubt back Swinburne’. But since his passing Newmarket had lost some of it’s charm for me
Of course over the years there has been plenty of advertising of Point to Point meetings but I always felt that they were an amateur events that could border on the chaotic! Happily that’s not the case except in the sense that the event and atmosphere is relaxed and less structured. A throwback surely but in a positive spirit.
The other preconception is that Point to Point is run by, and for, an elitist landowning class that I should be tugging my forelock to. That idea, while not entirely valid, has more basis. Even Goodwood, on a corporate event back in the day, lacks stewards with bowler hats! At Horseheath tweed is de rigeur for audience/participants, everyone seems to know everyone (picture a village pub where conversation dies when you enter the bar), and most seem to trail dogs of various sizes but of clear breeding.
Do those comments sound negative? They may and if so then that’s down to my poor prose. In fact the whole environment is like a positive step back in time where, despite the bowler hats, there is an informality that encourages relaxation and enjoyment.
I have to confess that although this was my first visit to the Horseheath Point to Point family commitments (ferrying our youngest daughter from sleep over to party) meant that we missed the early pony races and the last 2 adult races. But strolling from the car park we suddenly realised that,between races, we were actually crossing the course itself (blocked during the race of course) and were able, safely, to wander over the whole course with minimum restrictions.
Another confession- I haven’t yet fallen in love with rural events. I’m unlikely in the foreseeable to turn up at a ploughing contest. I am trying to develop my photographic (hobby) ability and thought Point to Point would be a useful place to get close to motion and to practice ‘panning’. That was correct too although the accompanying photographs will enable to make up your own mind to the quality of results.
Having said that my wife (always eager for a day out) and I enjoyed the meeting and the atmosphere hugely. There are plenty of facilities including some decent food and drink and the immediacy of the sport brings you into things in a way that more professional venues cannot hope to do. We will be back with a picnic, blanket and a longer lens.
I hope these images portray the words above better and encourage you to take a look at a sport that is probably available, affordably, close to home.