Point-to-point racing is an amateur version of National Hunt racing or the Steeplechase. It is a very popular sport in Ireland. The name point-to-point refers to the points of the church steeples that the horses used to follow during a race. Nowadays, the difference between point-to-point races and steeplechases is that point-to-point races are run cross country, while steeplechases tend to be run on tracks.
In Ireland, horses often start off point-to-point racing before moving onto National Hunt racing whereas, in England and Wales, the horses competing are usually close to the end of their careers. Competing horses must be thoroughbreds unless they are taking part in hunt races or some club races. All the competing horses should be qualified to hunt, and jockeys should be members of a hunt. Races are usually 3 miles long with a minimum of 18 obstacles that are four feet six inches high.
Point-to-point races are run under the regulations laid out by the Point-to-Point Owners and Riders Association, the Point-to-Point Secretary’s Association and the Jockey Club. They are more much more informal than other horseracing events and are organised at local rather than national level by individual clubs.
The six main types of point-to-point races are:
- Maiden Race: For new horses that haven’t won a race before.
- Intermediate Race: For horses that have not won a flat race before, with the exception of National Hunt Flat Races.
- Open Race: Open to any horses and also specify whether they are only for male jockeys, only for female jockeys or whether both female and male jockeys are able to compete.
- Hunters’ Chase: Only for qualified hunting horses with amateur riders. Riders and horses must conform to a weight-to-age ratio that has been set out by the Jockey Club.
- Hunt Members Race: A race for horses that are qualified to run with the hunt that is holding the meeting.
- Confined Race: For horses that are qualified to run with the hunt promoting the race or with any hunts that are next to it (up to a maximum of fifteen hunts).
- Flat Races: These are point-to-point races held as flat races for nine to fifteen year old riders. Both horses and riders must have experience hunting before they can participate.
For further information and a list of point-to-point events visit: