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Two famous Lincolnshire point-to-point horse races declared 'non-runners'

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: August 15, 2014

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The loss of two well-known horse races has dealt a massive blow to the sport in Lincolnshire.

Both Blankney and Burton point-to-point events at the North Carlton course on the Lincolnshire Showground will no longer run.

In 2008, organisers hailed the move to get the two meets to use the showground as a major vote of confidence in the county's horse racing scene.

Six years on, those dreams are dashed.

There are only around 110 such sites in the UK for the pursuit – a popular amateur form of horse racing.

John Lockwood, chairman of the North Carlton Committee which organised both races on the course, said their demise was caused by a number of reasons.

He said: "It is with some considerable sadness that I find myself in the winding up of the North Carlton Committee and hence the Burton Point-to-Point.

"I think there are a number of other factors both local and national that have contributed.

"It is hard to get half the subscribers to take any interest and what was a good flow of horses qualifying out of hunting, has now reduced to a mere tickle."

Point-to-point, also known as steeplechasing, has not been seen in Lincoln since the Grandstand in Carholme Road held its last race in the 1990s.

Its meets were scheduled to attract thousands of visitors, generate jobs and pump

But he said the interest from race-goers had dropped – while the cost pressures had gone up.

"Farmers themselves, who would always welcome the social opportunity that a day at the local point-to-point provided, are less inclined to feel quite the same need to attend, much like the county shows in a way," he said.

"We also find ourselves ever more tightly managed and regulated, leading to the inevitable increase in costs and in the work involved."

Horses involved in such races are generally run from livery yards.

In Ireland, point-to-point is a stepping stone for promising young National Hunt horses.

But although it is less high profile in Britain, it is still a vital part of the racing fabric for owners and fans.

"Owners have demanded conditions more akin to a National Hunt meeting than what should be an amateur event, run by amateurs for amateur horses and riders," said Mr Lockwood.

"The lack of profitability of running the event is not the be all and end all, but a failure to make a worthwhile margin does, over time, sap the enthusiasm of the organisers who have to muster some 80-plus volunteers for the day."

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