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Point-to-Points: Three of England's best racecourses

Duncombe Park, Yorkshire

Set Chantilly-esque in the grounds of an 18th century house, that may be the only similarity this Yorkshire course keeps with its French cousin. With a course stretching for almost three miles, you're more likely to find a meat pie here than a jambon beurre, lying as it does just over twelve miles east of Thirsk. Racing gets underway on 5th February, when the course hosts the Sinnington Hunt meeting (first race at midday), their only fixture.

Horseheath, Cambridgeshire

Horseheath is home to one of racing's greatest sights. Runners glide along the crest of the hill, over an open ditch, and towards a steep downhill stretch and right-hand bend. Cutting her teeth of the course's permanent fences (considered some of the country's best), this is the course where Bridget Andrews started out, and she still takes home most of the prizes. Moving the paddock (to accommodate a cross-country course), as well as the removal of characteristic white racecard kiosks, and a reconfiguration of the trade stands and members' bar, have caused disquiet, but the course remains a challenging test of stamina.

Larkhill, Wiltshire

One of the busiest point-to-point courses in England, the track sits just above Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain. Racing has been staged here since 1947, though military races had been taking place pre-war. Larkhill owes its permanent existence to Major General Bill Heath, founder of the Royal Artillery Saddle Club, who saw drainage potential with the area's bed of chalk. Despite meticulous preparations, however, the first meeting was a disaster, and the wind blow so hard that almost every tent was blown clean away. Things had improved, thankfully, by 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II attended the United Services meeting and made the Open Race presentation.


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