A Short History of the PPORA
In 1977 Jim Mahon called together a group of owners to organise an appeal to the Jockey Club to ask for a 7lb weight allowance for five-year-olds in point-to-points. 28 people attended this meeting, and the suggestion was made that an owners’ association should be formed.
Jim was elected first Chairman, and remained in that position until becoming President in 1986. He was succeeded in the chair by Percy Tory, our recently retired President, who took on the latter task when Jim sadly died in 2001. It was Percy’s charm and diplomacy which finally secured the longed-for representation on the Jockey Club Liaison Committee in 1990.
Much has been achieved and many charities have benefited from the association’s generosity. Each Chairman, who now serves a three year term, has made his own contribution to improving the sport, and under Michael Bannister’s guidance the organisation changed its name from The Point-to-Point Owners’ Association to encompass the riders in 1995.
Michael was followed by John Sharp, who secured the right for jockeys to ride in both divisions of a split-on-the-day race.
John’s successor Richard Russell had his arm twisted to stay in office for an extra 12 months after the 2001 season, which occurred during the first year of his reign, was decimated by FMD. Richard, who was instrumental in the growth of Novice Riders’ races, continues to work tirelessly on behalf of the sport, and as an independent member on the Point-to-Point Board chaired the Review which took place in 2006/7. Richard became president of the Association in 2016.
The next to hold the post was Simon Claisse, who juggled the task with the workload from his day job, that of Director of Racing and Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham. During his tenure Simon had to cope with many changes, including the implementation of the Hunting Act in 2005, the formation of the Point-to-Point Board and the creation of the Point-to-Point Authority. Increased insurance cover for riders and a Public Liability deal for owners have been the result of Simon’s negotiations with the relevant organisations. Simon subsequently became chairman of the Point-To-Point Authority.
Richard Fuller who, as a former Master of the Vine & Craven, has always stressed the importance of maintaining the sport’s hunting links.
Other innovations initiated by the PPORA have been the popular and worthwhile riders’ seminars, the recognition of multiple ownership, the introduction of sub-three mile point-to-points, compulsory medical insurance for all riders, and the chance for jockeys to demonstrate their acting skills. This latter example has come about since jockeys who have had a fall have been required to be passed fit by the doctor before competing again at the meeting – perhaps the fact that the medics think that they must all be mad to start with helps their cause.
Robert Killen, a former chairman of the Point to Point Secretaries Association succeded Richard in 2015. He brings a passion and wealth of knowledge for the sport and will no doubt bring his own ideas during his 3 year term.
Of course, it’s not the Chairman who does the work, but the Secretary. Sue Exell, Anne Moore and Rosemary Harper kept the ship afloat in the early years, and Jeanette Dawson held the post from 1988 until handing the reins over to Abi Stock in October 2014.
The most forward-thinking of men, Jim Mahon could surely never have realised in 1977 what a powerful organisation the PPORA would grow into. May the sport we all love become ever stronger!