Preview of the new South Wold Point-to-Point Course at Revesby by Emma Forman
Today I was lucky enough to have a preview of the new Point-to-Point course the South Wold have laid out at Revesby Park. As I set off from my Kirmington residence, I am intrigued and rather excited to see what the new track will be like.
Indeed, it isn’t really a new course at all, rather a new layout of an old one; racing last took place there in the spring of 1977. I hadn’t been born yet, however, I have heard a lot about the course; I am very proud to have two Uncles that rode there in the old days. My Mother has fond memories of going there in a Landrover and trailer horsebox; the sport was very different then. She recalls helping to lead a horse round in the horsebox park on a particularly wet day and slipping over on the long grass. Needless to say she managed to keep hold of the horse and avoid a telling off from my Grandfather. She tells me that having hunted the racehorses properly all season, they tried to run at each meeting run by an adjacent hunt. A visit to the Holderness prior to the Humber Bridge was a major excursion back then, and if they did particularly well, a visit to Garthorpe might have been on the cards.
Since 1977, the South Wold Point-to-Point moved to Brocklesby for one year before going to the Carholme at Lincoln. Following the demise of that course in 1991, they moved to Market Rasen before returning to Brocklesby where their 2016 meeting was held. When Anna Saunders told me last summer that the BHA course inspector, Nick Carlisle, had given approval for a new course at Revesby, I must admit that I did check my calendar to see if it was in fact April 1st! In the current climate of meetings being lost, it does seem a brave manoeuvre.
So back to my journey down the Caistor high street and on to Horncastle; a very pleasant drive on quiet roads through swathes of unspoilt Lincolnshire countryside. The distance was 38 miles and after an hour I drive past the outskirts of the deer park at Revesby; these deer were featured on BBC Country file when Adam Henson visited them last year.
Once at the course, I am handed a map and set off to walk the course which is right handed, square shaped and slightly undulating. The start is at the furthest point away from the “stands” and after jumping 2 fences there is a right hand bend and the course goes slightly downhill to another fence and then an open ditch. After another bend, there are 2 more fences; the second of which is just in front of the paddock. At the next bend there will be the bookmakers, weighing room, bar and forward parking. There is then one more fence followed by a short uphill run to the finishing line. The ground is lovely old parkland turf. There are clumps of trees in the centre a bit like at Dalton Park and racegoers will be allowed into the centre of the course which is where the best viewing will be.
As I stand at the winning post trying to imagine Cidersall and Tom Strawson crossing the line in front, my eyes are drawn to the ancient Revesby Abbey on the far side of the park. I am told that there is a magnificent dance floor there and during World War II the American pilots that flew from nearby RAF Coningsby were housed there. However, I am a bit puzzled as to what the monks used a dance floor for! After further research I discover that Revesby Abbey was a Cistercian Monastery founded in 1143 by William de Roumare, Earl of Lincoln and the first monks came from Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire. After the dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII in the 16th Century the Abbey was demolished and a country house built. The current house was built in the mid-19th century but is unoccupied and in poor condition. Indeed there are many reports of haunted happenings and if you are interested in spending a night at reportedly one of the most active buildings in Britain, there are regular Ghost Hunts at the Abbey.
On leaving the course I consider the prospect of celebrating a winner or dining on the way home. There is the Red Lion Inn at Revesby right next to the course which does bed and breakfast. In Horncastle the Admiral Rodney is highly recommended whilst if you are heading back towards Sleaford, the Musician’s Arms at Dorrington has good reviews.
As I make my journey home, I reflect on the fact that each of the 7 fences- well built by Jumprite – have cost £2500 each to mention but one expense. I am full of admiration for Mark and Pat Barthorpe, Sally Spink the secretary and the rest of the South Wold team. I sincerely wish them all the very best, including a mild sunny day, good ground, lots of people and runners.
So what is my overall verdict? I am full of excitement for racing at Revesby in a fortnight! It is a beautiful, almost perfect setting. Would I like to run a horse there? Most definitely! Be sure to put Saturday 11th March in your diary, first race at 12noon; trust me you will love it!