Today’s guest has been surrounded by horses his whole life but entered pointing at a later stage. Dan Cherriman is a dedicated huntsman with a passion for high adrenaline sports!
🏇🏼How are you involved in pointing? I’m an owner & jockey, unlike most people I came to pointing late in life. I grew up on a farm in Sussex & was involved in all aspects of country sports. We attended our local P2P at Parham or Peper Harow but that was it really.
🏇🏼Favourite aspect of pointing? As a jockey it ticks all the boxes for me: it’s outdoors, competitive, equestrian, has an element of risk & danger which adds to the adrenaline, it’s physically demanding & requires structure, training & effort. It’s all about the participation for me & gives me the same buzz as a good days hunting.
🏇🏼How did you get into pointing? When I was 25 I was appointed as professional huntsman to the Pytchley in Northamptonshire. I was surrounded by people who were deeply involved in pointing. Two of the Masters, Rowan Cope & Stuart Morris, had been top amateur jockeys. There were lots of people training locally all deeply connected with the Hunt; Caroline & Gerald Bailey where we had our opening meet, Joan Tice, Jo Messenger & Tik Saunders. It’s very unusual for professional Hunt staff to race ride (in fact it used to be against the rules). I got very keen on the idea & fortunately Mick Wills at the Grafton Hunt next door had set a precedent. I asked the Masters permission to acquire a horse to ride in the Members & have a couple of spins on, thereafter. They agreed & we agreed I wouldn’t ride until March in case I got injured and couldn’t hunt hounds. I got in touch with Jo Messenger; she trained a few horses from her home yard at Creaton just a mile from where I lived. She was an enormous encouragement & taught me so much coming from a completely non-racing background.
🏇🏼What is your day job? I’ve been involved in hunting full-time for 20 seasons. Up until last year I was a professional but I’m just coming to the end of my first season as Joint Master & Huntsman of the South Shropshire Hunt.
🏇🏼What’s your pointing highlight? I’ve only ridden a total of 9 winners (7 in points, 1 Hunter chase and a charity race) so am still at the stage where I can clearly remember every one and they were all great days. There’s nothing quite like your first winner though, especially when it takes a while coming. The first couple of years I only had one horse and 5 or 6 rides and it has grown from there. My first pointing win was at the end of my third season. By this stage I was riding a couple of different horses and was getting desperate. I thought I’d had my last ride at the end of May and finished another winless season. In June. I was looking to buy a horse and found Churchfield Champ in Devon. He’d been advertised for a while but not sold, possibly owing to his age (11) but his form was good and he was inexpensive. He was with Kayley Woolacott. I rang on the Tuesday, arranged a vetting for the Wednesday and bought him. He was entered at Umberleigh for the last meeting of the year, which was on the Saturday, I said to Kayley “If you’d kept him, would you run him?” “Yes” she replied, so I said “Right, bring him to the races on Saturday, I’ll ride him and take him home”. She did and he won! I’d never seen the horse before except in a photograph let alone ridden him so you can imagine the thrill!
🏇🏼Where’s your favourite point-to-point & why? I like Peper Harow. I’m two from two there and it’s also the closest track to where I grew up. It’s always nice winning in front of a home crowd.
🏇🏼What’s your pointing career aim? It’s not so much a pointing aim as a life ambition, but I would love to jump around Aintree in the Foxhunters. I started the race last year and was bought down at the first fence so it feels very much like unfinished business.
🏇🏼How would you describe pointing to someone that hasn’t been before? Informal, grassroots horse racing. A fun family day out in the countryside run by local hunts.
🏇🏼What’s your earliest pointing memory? Sitting on the roof rack of my father’s Landrover with my siblings at Parham which was usually around my sisters birthday in March.
🏇🏼What do you think lies for the future of pointing? That’s a tricky one really. The sports developed so much in so many ways which is great but it has lost a lot of the smaller more grassroots trainers which is sad. Keeping enough horses in the game is the key I guess as no one wants to come and watch walkovers or void races.
🏇🏼What’s your favourite aspect of riding/training/owning pointers? Definitely the riding, not just on the track but I really enjoy galloping and schooling as well. I’m currently sidelined though as I fractured my pelvis a week ago in a schooling fall!
🏇🏼Any hobbies outside of horses? Hunting is number one. I usually hunt over a hundred days a year. I love having jockeys out hunting. There’s nothing better then sitting at the meet on a good horse in a piece of Vale country and looking around the field to see a gang of jockeys - past or present, amateur or professional, they normally go like smoke and it’s great fun. Away from horses I enjoy running and cycling and it’s great that they assist with my racing fitness.
Thanks so much for catching up with us from your hospital bed Dan, wishing you a speedy recovery & hope to see you back in the saddle soon!