THE world of point-to-pointing in Ireland was blindsided this week with news that the current season has been suspended. No date for a resumption has been given, nor has there been a firm date given for a review of the situation.
This is a huge blow to a sector that has become a vital economic driver in rural Ireland.
I hardly need to spell out for readers of this paper how important, indeed vital, point-to-pointing has become. The investment made by many in young stock to race between the flags has grown year on year, and now stands at an all-time high.
The potential rewards are great, but not every expensive store turns into a pot of gold. The need to race is great, both economically and from a welfare perspective.
Point-to-point handlers are well aware of the national landscape when it comes to Covid-19, as are the authorities who oversee the sector. The bodies who do so have also made certain that racing can continue in a safe manner, and there have thankfully been no incidents that would have brought the point-to-point world to the attention of Government or state bodies.
The decision to suspend racing, while accepted by the governing bodies in the sport, is still puzzling to me. I believe there is a strong case to be made for reinstating it quickly, and I assume that both the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board and Horse Racing Ireland will be making a strong plea for this to happen. While amateur riders compete on the horses, there is nothing amateur about how the sector is run.
Quality is the degree of excellence of something, a distinctive attribute or characteristic possessed by someone or something. While many words in the English language are overused to the extent that they are debased, it is safe to say that quality is one that can be associated with the late Prince Khalid Abdullah, and his racing and breeding empire.
Elsewhere in the paper this week we pay tribute to a man who was a breed-shaper within the industry, whose careful cultivation of female lines and prudent use of the best stallions saw him enjoy unrivalled success as an owner-breeder. The hallmarks of his success were constancy and consistency, whether with his choice of people or equines.
For four decades Prince Khalid’s colours have been known to us, thanks to the exploits of many Group and Grade 1 winners. His influence will continue to be exerted, hopefully for as long again.