Our Roots and our organisation today
From our origins in 1997 the PPORA has been at the heart of Point to Pointing
From our origins when Jim Mahon first assembled a group of 28 fellow owners to appeal to the Jockey Club for a 7lb weight allowance for five-year-olds running in Point to Points the PPORA has been a campaigning role driving participant focussed change within our sport. The formation of an owners’ association was proposed with many of those present becoming Life Members of the fledgling association, and it speaks volumes about the appeal of our sport that many of these founder members remain actively involved in Pointing today.
Jim duly elected as the first Chairman of the Point to Point Owners’ Association in 1997 a role he continued until handing over the mantle to Percy Tory in 1986; Jim maintained his connection with the organisation as its President until his death in 1991
With his diplomatic personality and openness to change Percy’s leadership strengthened the credibilty and influence of the PPA not least through the achievement of representation on the Jockey Club Liaison Committee in 1990
When Percy’s term was complete it was Michael Bannister who stepped up to the mark, with a vision that saw our remit expand to encompass riders – we became the Point To Point Owners and Riders’ Association in 1995
East Anglian John Sharp, himself a former rider, took over next, notable securing the previously denied opportunity for riders to take part in both divisions of a race divided on the day.
In 2001 Richard Russell – supported the growth of Novice Riders’ Races – remain at the heart of our activity today. Richard’s is our current President a role he took over in 2016
For Simon Claisse the period of his Chairmanship steered the organisation through a period of unprecedented change
It all began when Jim Mahon assembled a group of 28 owners to appeal to the Jockey Club for the introduction of a 7lb weight allowance for five-year-olds running in Point to Points – from this a suggestion that an owners’ association should be formed
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.
Simon was succeeded by 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 succeeded Richard in 2015, bringing a passion and a wealth of knowledge acquired over a life time of involvement not least as a former Chairman of the PPSA. Over his four year’s as Chairman Robert worked tirelessly to strengthen the grassroots ethos of the sport that originated with founder Jim Mahon, and to evolve the association to meet the needs and interests of today’s Point to Point Community. This has included revisions to the PPORA’s contests and awards to strengthen PPORA visibility and relevance, and enhanced engagement and communication with members through a range of initiatives including the introduction of a Members’ Forum at the AGM. He brings a passion and wealth of knowledge for the sport and will no doubt bring his own ideas during his 3 year term.
Robert is succeeded as Chairman in August 2019 by Mark Buchan, export manager for Baileys Horse Feeds, Mark is equally passionate about the sport in which he has been involved in a variety of ways over many years. His background include competing as an owner-rider, he has also been a joint meeting secretary, Clerk of the Course at Marks Tey, and is currently steward.
Original content by Carolyn Tanner, updated in 2019 by Tessa Jenkins