The sport of Steeplechasing (point to point) originated over 250 years ago in Ireland when Mr Blake challenged his neighbour Mr. O’Callaghan, to race across country from Buttevant church to Doneraile church some four and a half miles distance and to jump stone walls, ditches and hedges as they presented themselves. By keeping the steeple of the church in sight (steeplechasing) both riders could see their finishing point.
It was Yorkshire in that the first traceable use of the phrase point-to-point in connection with a horse race was used in ‘Bell’s Life’ Britains leading sporting paper of the day – “without which no Gentleman’s Sunday was quite complete”. On 10 January 1874 a Point to Point race is described that took place on the 2 January from Sutton-on-the-Forest to Brandsby, held by the 9th Lancers stationed at nearby York. It was won by Langar, ridden by his owner the Hon. E. Willoughby.
Today a Point-to-Point is amateur horse racing over fences held at a variety of venues from farmer’s fields, the grounds of stately homes to the local National Hunt racecourse. A chance to see some of Yorkshire’s finest countryside and discover places you wouldn’t otherwise find or even know existed. It’s a great day out in ‘God’s own Country’
Be sure to arrive in plenty of time so you can enjoy your picnic before the racing starts, buy your race card – this will give you lots of information about the horses and Jockeys – study the form and decide where to place your bets using the Tote or a bookmaker. It is a very friendly affair if you have never placed a bet before or are unsure what the race card is telling you simply ask a friendly Yorkshire countryman. Whilst all courses have a bar, catering and toilets, lots of the venues have trade stands and some even have a country fair running alongside the day. Entertainment for children is often provided in the shape of bouncy castles and fairground rides.
There’s no dress code, the season starts in November and finishes in mid-June – so a warm coat and wellies during the colder months is sensible and don’t forget the sun cream as we head into Spring and Summer. Take enough cash to cover the cost of entrance, a racecard, any bets you wish to place, and food and drink as there will not be card facilities in these rural locations.
We had a great family day out at the Sinnington Point to point at Duncombe Park in the pretty market town of Helmsley, on Valentine’s Day with two of our sons, their wives and baby in waiting. We didn’t win much!
Just half an hour from Crag House Farm luxury holiday cottages.
Yorkshire Point to Point dates for your diary
Sinnington Sunday 14th February
Derwent Sunday 2nd March
Hurworth Saturday 19th March
Badsworth & Bramham Moor Saturday 26th March
Staintondale Monday 28th March
Middleton Sunday 3rd April
Bedale Saturday 9th April
Cleveland Sunday 17th April
York & Ainsty Sunday 24th April
Pendle Forest & Craven Saturday 30th April
Zetland Monday 2nd May
Bilsdale Sunday 8th May
South Durham Saturday 14th May.