Following Monday's timetabled relaxation of restrictions, Point-to-Point racing will resume again in the UK on March 29 with a totally fresh fixture list.
The remaining 12 weeks of the season will see a total of 54 fixtures stretching across the entire UK, amid which the Three Counties is well represented. The Berkeley moves on a day to Sunday April 25, whilst 4 other fixtures also take place across Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, starting with Maisemore on March 30.
A notable switch is the move of Shelfield Park from the third week in March to April 11, a slot vacated by Andoversford. No Cotswold fixture will take place at all, following the withdrawal of the North Cotswold at Paxford, Andoversford Races and the Cotswold Vale at Maisemore.
For the time being at least, all fixtures will remain behind closed doors with an intention to live stream all events. Further relaxation of restrictions will be at the direction of DCMS depending on the speed of infections falling and the vaccination roll-out.
A full national fixture list may be seen here.
Following the Prime Minister’s Announcement yesterday, the Point-to-Point Authority is planning to restart the sport in week commencing March 29.
Peter Wright, CEO, reported, "We are working hard to create a new fixture list which reflects the situation, and hope to have one available by the end of this week – there is no shortage of volunteers.
I realise that this will be disappointing news for some as we are inherently safe with very low densities, no fomites and no ventilation problems - apart from it sometimes being too windy. However, we do not operate in a bubble, and we have to be on the same page as other amateur sports."
This will still leave 11-12 weeks of the season remaining, including the two major Foxhunter chases at Aintree and Stratford.
In terms of the paying public and Owners, the government position is not yet clear but racing will restart behind closed doors until April 12 at the least.
The Berkeley Hunt has been in existence in some fashion or other since the C12th, but in keeping with the growth of organised sport, and capitalism in Victorian Britain, the hunt branched out into racing in the middle of the C19th, setting up an annual race day about a mile out of Berkeley in February 1859, which lasted until the 1870s.
At that time, there was stiff competition for racecourses. Virtually every small town had its own fixture, some over multiple days, and ready fruits of Victorian labour were pushed into racecourse construction all over the UK. Bristol having done very well from the Industrial Revolution, as witnessed by the quantity of elegant houses within easy reach of the city, it saw plenty of competition for racing.
The Bristol & Counties Races Company, of which more later, was, at least temporarily, better funded, to the extent that the Berkeley Races died out in the 1870s for around 10 years, before returning in April 1885 on a course of 2 1/2 - 3 miles. Whilst the meeting was well received, including a Yeomanry Cup restricted to riders from the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars that would make Rollo Clifford very proud, it couldn't be sustained and died a death the following year.
Bristol, by contrast, continued to spawn racecourses hither and thither, even though none sadly survive now.
The first recorded chase was somewhere in Bristol in 1832, and another is mentioned at Marshfield 2 years later. There were also races on what is best known as Clifton Downs, or Durdham Down, between the Zoo and the halls of residence for the university on the western side of the Common, but again, these died out by 1838.
A further fixture was held at Patchway, between the RAC Call centre and Cribbs Causeway Shopping Centre to viewers on the M5, in 1856, and a meeting west of Keynsham 3 years later, at Knowle. These were all, of course, rural areas before Bristol had grown to its current size.
But it was at Knowle that Bristol set up its biggest chance to make a racecourse of which to be proud. Just off the Wells Road, and south of what is now Redcatch Lane to Bristolians, land was leased by owner Sir Greville Smyth to the Bristol & Western Counties Racecourse Company.
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