THERE’S no country sport more thrilling, entertaining and packed full of adrenaline rush than Point to Point racing whether you’re an owner, trainer, jockey or spectator – and the coming weeks sees the 2016 season hit overdrive with races at Askham Bryan College; Charm Park in Wykeham, near Scarborough; and Dalton Park, near Beverley.
Husband and wife team Clive and Marti Mulhall of Scarcroft Hall Farm are looking forward to all three of the point to pointers in their stables – Mister Wall Street, Barren Hill and Infantry Officer – not just running but hopefully standing a great chance of winning this year.
During the past decade the couple have also stepped up to the professional plate and now have a string of 12 racehorses in their stables near Thorner just east of Leeds.
Mister Friday, their best so far, was a three-time big race winner at Cheltenham and won six races in a row, but Point to Point racing is where they started and where Clive carved out a significant reputation having had his football career cut short through injury.
“My father Joe was a racehorse trainer for 45 years. He had around 500 winners including big ones like the Ayr Gold Cup and top handicaps at York.
“I was born opposite York racecourse on Tadcaster Road and always wanted to be a flat race jockey but was going to be too big, then my football career took off. I played for Yorkshire and had trials with Hull City, Middlesbrough, Queen’s Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest before becoming an apprentice at ‘Boro and then playing for York City for nearly three seasons.
“I played for a number of good non-league clubs before an ankle injury finished me, but I’d always ridden out and still had racing ambitions.
“I wrote letters to a number of trainers. Sue and Harvey Smith replied. I was still working in sales as I had been since leaving York City at 20 but I combined this with riding out and racing for them and they gave me my first winner. I will always be eternally grateful for the chance they gave me, how they were with me and the things they taught me.”
Clive was with them for seven-and-a-half years before moving to Jimmy Fitzgerald in Malton. He remained an amateur jockey throughout his racing career with 20 winners under rules and 73 in Point to Point.
He was Yorkshire champion twice in 1996 and 1998, but the sport did more than just help him achieve success on the track and in the countryside.
“It’s also how I met Marti. I rode for Marti’s employer and she trained the horses for him. Point to Point has been so good for us and gave us that confidence in getting to where we are today training racehorses full-time and competing against the best.
“It’s 10 years since I got my full licence and so far we’ve had quite a lot of success with lower grade horses. We get them as fit and healthy as we can and then assess their grade. When their owners go to the races, whether it’s at Charm Park in Point to Point or Cheltenham under rules, I just want every owner to feel excited that there is a chance of a win or at least a place.
“Sometimes you have to manage that disappointment a little afterwards if the performance has not been great but then you can get a surprise 66-1 winner at Beverley on a lovely summer’s evening as we did last year.
“This year we have a yard of horses which we think could all win a race – and we have a couple that we’re hoping will take us a bit further up.”
Clive and Marti have learned many lessons along the way, notably about owners and hopefully attracting the right ones as Clive points out.
“Everybody is chasing owners. That’s the name of the game. The Chapman family, who have a haulage business are our biggest supporters in the under rules stable and are just fantastic. We also had a great man called Arron Rea at one time too.
“Emma Forman is a lovely lady who owns two of the Point to Pointers – Barren Hill and Infantry Officer; and Dom Bradshaw, who is a massive influence in the Point to Point world has shares in them too.
“Charlotte Kemp who comes from the East Riding owns Mister Wall Street and this year she’s going to be riding him. That’s what Point to Point can do for you. Buy a horse, own it and ride it in a race. It’s the dream for many.
“You don’t do Point to Point racing for the money though,” says Marti.
“It’s so tough your heart has to be in it, but it’s been great for us. It’s a really good social scene too and there are no posh areas where you’re not allowed. You can stand right next to the race, hear the thunder as the horses race past and we find it’s also a great way to educate young racehorses.”
Marti and Clive have two children, Charlotte, aged 14, starting her first season pony racing, and Liam, eight.
READY FOR THE RACES
Marti Mulhall is the official trainer of the Scarcroft Hall Racing Point to Pointers. Marti started in racing at 15 when working for Lynn Siddall’s stables in Colton.
Mister Wall Street has won under rules; Barren Hill has run in Ireland; Infantry Officer ran a couple of races last year.
All three are due to run in the next couple of weeks. Barren Hill at the West of Yore meeting at Askham Bryan College next Sunday and the other two at Charm Park for the Derwent Hunt Point to Point meeting on Sunday, March 6.
The Holderness Hunt Point to Point takes place at Dalton Park on Sunday, March 13.