P2P Q&A - Paul Murtagh on 150 years of the INHSC
13 November 2020
The Irish National
Hunt Steeplechase Committee celebrates 150 years of existence this year. A
remarkable history. What is the background to the INHSC and what are its
to our records, the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee was established
in 1869, meeting for the first time in 1870. National Hunt racing was then held
according to INHSC rules and soon afterwards they assumed responsibility for
staging Point to Points. The INHSC first
established a set of regulations for the Point to Points in 1900 and these are
in use to this day as the ‘Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Regulations for
Point to Point Steeplechases’.
The INHSC was given statutory recognition in the Irish
Horseracing Industry Act 1994, the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act 2000, the Horse
Racing Ireland Act 2016 as the Regulator for National Hunt racing. However,
these regulatory functions for both National Hunt racing and Point to Points
were transferred to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) upon its
establishment in 2018.
Nowadays the INHSC is solely responsible for the governance
and administration of Point to Points. An all-island body, whose members come
from all over the island of Ireland, the members elect three Stewards to promote
and support Point to Points and National Hunt racing in general. The majority of members of the INHSC are
also members of the IHRB to serve in a voluntary capacity as Acting Stewards
for the IHRB at all 26 racecourses in Ireland and to act as an IHRB
Representative at all Point to Points.
What is the INHSC involvement in Point
the INHSC is responsible for the Point to Point fixture list, allocating
suitable dates and ensuring a balanced schedule of fixtures each Autumn and
Spring season, with suitable opportunities for all categories of National Hunt
horses and riders. Some initiatives the INHSC sponsor to aid with this include:
- Sponsoring a series of maiden races at Point
to Points for older horses with €1,000 Bonus prizemoney to each winner,
culminating in a €5,000 final.
- Promoting a series of Auction races for
4yo maidens purchased as stores for less than €25,000 at a defined Public
- Financially supporting Hunt Committees
to encourage them to stage races for Novice Riders at Point to Points.
The INHSC also
work closely with Hunts, Handlers, Qualified Riders and other stakeholders each
year to plan for each season and then review it, aiming to improve Point to Points
for all participants. They have provided Hunt Committees with financial support
for new initiatives down through the years, constantly focussing on improving
safety and welfare of both horse and rider. And then throughout the season, at
least one member of the INHSC represents the IHRB at every Point to Point on a
voluntary basis to assist the IHRB and Hunt
Committees in the running of the fixture.
The INHSC are
also committed to supporting the Point to Point Awards. Traditionally held at
the end of the season, this could not happen this year due to the pandemic.
Instead, with the fantastic support of our regular sponsors, the winners were
presented with their awards at the Point to Point Day in Fairyhouse on Tuesday
November 10th. This Point to Point Day was a new initiative that the
INHSC felt was needed since many of the Hunter Chases and Point to Point
Bumpers in Spring were lost due to the pandemic and was made possible with the
support of HRI and Fairyhouse. The INHSC sponsored 2 races on the day and we
would hope to develop this concept in coming years – it brought Point to Pointing
to a wider audience for the day and it was a day we were delighted to be
been a challenging year. How has the INHSC adapted?
The whole Point to Point industry
suffered hugely from the timing of the lockdown in March. In effect the
lockdown resulted in only 50% of the fixtures originally scheduled for the
2019/20 Point to Point season being held, as the months of March, April and May
are the busiest months of the whole year. We then set about consulting with the
various stakeholders to establish an enhanced Autumn Season of fixtures. With
the wonderful help of many Hunt Committees we scheduled 37 fixtures, 22 of
which have been held successfully to date, with a strong level of entries and
good numbers of runners. These Point to Points had to be held behind closed
doors, and with the help of HRI and IHRB in particular, we have been able to
run Point to Points under the same strict protocols as racecourses, restricting
access to only those essential to the running
of the meeting, health-screening all attendees, temperature-checking
everyone on arrival and to date Hunt Committees have been fantastic with
providing everything required to run the meeting in a safe environment. Adherence
to the Protocols by all attendees has been excellent.
Furthermore, the INHSC supported each Hunt Committee financially by
contributing €1,000 to each Hunt that held a fixture and along with p2p.ie
provided racecards for each fixture. The Qualified Riders Association also
contributed €500 to each Hunt Committee and Tattersalls Ireland sponsored a
race at each fixture to the same amount. The INHSC are grateful to all these
organisations for ensuring the Autumn Point to Point season could take place
amid such uncertainty.
important are Point to Points to Irish racing as a whole?
important to both the Irish National Hunt breeding industry and to Irish
racing. Each year multiple top-level successes, both in Ireland and Britain,
are recorded by horses that first showcased their talents in an Irish Point to
Point. The yards of trainers throughout the British Isles are full of horses
that started in Point to Points, and owners and trainers keep returning to the
Point to Point sales to source stock that are proven time and time again to win
at the highest level. Commercially this is very important to Irish racing
because the strength of these performances, consistently over time, means that
Irish Trainers do very well at the major Festivals and money filters down to
breeders, pinhookers, stallion masters etc. Point to Points are a real success
story in Irish Racing. Furthermore, they provide opportunities to older horses
to continue racing, provide opportunities for young amateur riders to improve
their riding and hone their skills, and provide owners with a cost-effective
way of getting into horse racing.
How do you
see the future of the INHSC? Another 150 years?
Hopefully we will
still be around in another 150 years. For the moment, we are just trying to
navigate the Point to Point industry through the pandemic so that we still have
a strong industry when things get back to normal. We have various plans to
improve Point to Points and National Hunt racing further and are working hard
to achieve these. We launched a new logo this year and aim to develop the INHSC
brand further to make people in the industry more aware of the organisation and
highlight some of the amazing voluntary work the members carry out.
IHRB & INHSC website: http://ihrb.ie/
All Irish point-to-point 4yo Maidens in 2020 will be
available to view on the ITM YouTube channel. Subscribe