Bedale Point-to-Point prepares for the Easter Races

PUBLISHED: 15:12 13 March 2012 | UPDATED: 21:09 20 February 2013

Bedale Point-to-Point prepares for the Easter Races

Bedale Point-to-Point prepares for the Easter Races

Virginia Furness looks forward to one of the most popular point-to-point meetings in the Yorkshire Dales which takes place every Easter Photographs by Mikaelle Lebreton

Take Ascot and remove from Berkshire, inject a serious dose of heritage, mix with Yorkshire charm and you arrive at point-to-point. Every weekend from December to April, amateur horsemen and women saddle-up unruly steeds and charge across the countryside, devouring turf and brush fences.

Chasing from steeple to steeple or point-to-point began in Ireland 260 years ago when Mr Blake challenged his neighbour Mr OCallaghan, to race across country from Buttevant Church to Doneraile Church in County Cork, some four and a half miles distance and to jump stone walls, ditches and hedges as they presented themselves.

Today the races are run over a set course and a minimum distance of three miles. Though no less thrilling, it is certainly a more organised affair with a seven-race card and plenty of opportunity for a family day out and an occasional flutter.

The Bedale Point-to-Point, set in extensive parkland and over-looked by majestic Hornby Castle, is one of the most picturesque courses in Yorkshire. The event has been held here since 1947 and is held on Easter Saturday each year, April 7th this year. It is a holiday highlight for many and is as much a social occasion as a chance to marvel at the pace and endurance of local thoroughbreds. Families come to picnic and the beer tent literally overflows as the young enjoy themselves before the infamous after-party, hosted by the Amadeus nightclub in Northallerton.

Point-to-point remains an amateur sport which definitely adds to its charm. Whilst big names like the Easterbys and Daresburys have a string of quality pointers, the crowds come to support the local farmers who own and train one horse themselves. The Members Race accolade contested by horses who have qualified with the Bedale Hunt is greatly coveted.

The Ladies and Mens Opens are always hotly contested. Yorkshires best pointers and jockeys line-up for these card highlights, which are often key in the race for the Yorkshire Area Championship. The Maiden race, for horses which have never previously won, is always eventful viewing. It takes a brave man to ride a newly broken four year old which has never set eyes on the track. The race is also a great opportunity to pick out next years winners.

A good day at the races is like nothing else. It is an unpretentious event where people from all walks of life come together with a common aim: to enjoy themselves. Wrap up in your tweeds and pack a good picnic. What could be more fun, what could be more Yorkshire, than a days racing in the spring?

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