HORSE racing returns to a Malvern Hills village in a fortnight, 34 years after it was moved from the area.
Point-to-point racing will be held in Knightwick on Sunday, April 29 for the first time since it was moved to Upper Sapey in 1984.
Prior to its transfer to Upper Sapey, the Clifton-upon-Teme point-to-point was also held at Horsham and when the news first broke about a resumption of racing in Knightwick, people presumed it meant a return to the old venue.
However, an entirely new course has come into existence due to the generosity of John and Sue Walker who are allowing their land – known as The Rock just off the A44 Worcester to Broymard Road – to be used for the purpose of the point-to-point meeting.
A West Midland Area Point-to-Point Secretaries Association spokesperson said: “Less than six months ago nobody had heard of Knightwick Races.
“Yet in just over two weeks’ time a point-to-point meeting will be run on a course which has attracted universal praise from those that have seen it.
“Knightwick has held point-to-point meetings at several locations in the vicinity over the past 100 years and all have proved popular, and there is no reason to believe this one will not follow in their footsteps.”
The first task of bringing racing back to Knightwick was to find a venue where land owners were willing to put up with disruption to their land management and everything which entailed.
Once that was completed, point-to-point experts were drafted in to have their say before the National Hunt Inspector of Courses was consulted regarding ideas for a proposed layout.
This included fence positions and the line the course would take as well as other ancillary items such as car park locations, horsebox parks, the paddock and children’s entertainment.
Racing enthusiasts based on the small rural hamlet of Clifton-on-Teme then had to source everything required in the course construction from scratch.
Plastic running rails are vital for any race meeting and the organisers were able to obtain several furlongs of this from Hereford, Worcester and Ludlow Racecourses, plus more from trainer Harry Dunlop.
A West Midland Area Point-to-Point Secretaries Association spokesperson added: “It seems that whatever problems were thrown in their way, the organisers’ can do attitude would eventually prevail.
“One thing is sure, if this new venture fails to meet its targets the organisers cannot be criticised for not trying.”
Knightwick Races opens at 12pm with the first racing starting at 2pm.