Britain’s record-breaking Point-to-Point champion Will Biddick will be chasing another landmark when the 2015/16 season opens on Sunday.
The Cornishman heads to Black Forest Lodge in Devon, having ridden 68 winners last season, smashing the previous highest score by 12, and landing the British title for the fourth year in a row. That equalled the achievement of East Anglian David Turner from 1974 to 1977, so a fifth straight championship would put Biddick out on his own among male riders, and equal with Polly Gundry, who took the title in successive years from 2000 to 2005 (it was not awarded in 2001 due to foot and mouth). Biddick’s next goal would be to match Turner and Gundry’s eight titles.
He admits last season’s score will be hard to follow, saying: “No one’s set the record in one season and improved on it the following year, so I just plan to go out and ride as many winners as possible. My main aim is to win the title.
“I’m not expecting to retire any time soon, so I’ll just keep riding, doing my best, and hopefully keep owners and trainers happy.”
Biddick rides primarily for Somerset-based trainer Jack Barber, but his string will not be unleashed for another week, so the champion’s four rides on Sunday will involve three for Joe Tickle and one for Sarah Gould.
Gina Andrews, Britain’s reigning women’s champion, is set to kick off the season at Cottenham in Cambridgeshire. Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton is expected to make her debut at one of the two meetings in a jumps race following three rides on the Flat.
Warwickshire-based Andrews could have three rides, although her brother Jack will partner Midnight Rebel, who is trained by her husband, Tom Ellis – the couple married in July, but Andrews is retaining her maiden name for race riding. She said of the new training yard in which she and Tom are partners: “Tom is the trainer, but I don’t know why, because I’m the one who has to phone owners with bad news!”
Sunday’s meetings involve six-race cards starting at noon – details of how to reach the venues can be found at the sport’s revamped national website www.pointtopoint.co.uk.