Cottenham’s future as a point-to-point venue is in doubt after the coming season’s three meetings were removed from the fixture list.
Land owner Michael Gingell retires as chairman of the course at the season’s end, and says he hoped to finish on a high, but he felt meetings without paying spectators would be financially unviable.
Gingell said: “Cottenham wishes everybody well and hopes they have a successful season. Nobody is sadder than me and I was looking forward to going out as well as I could. The fences are up and the course is looking good, but it’s high risk putting on a meeting in the current circumstances.
“Bear in mind two of three meetings at Cottenham are club meetings. A meeting in Devon run by a hunt will have plenty of support from within the hunt, but we don’t have that. Our staff bills on the day of racing are phenomenal, and paying spectators are the major form of income. We couldn’t make it viable.
“I’m 76 now and I’ve done 56 years of work at Cottenham since retiring from race riding at the age of 20. If a committee wants to come to me and take on the job of running the course I would be very happy, but it requires someone at the helm.”
Stephen Howlett, chairman of the East Anglia Point-to-Point Association, said other meetings in the region are set to go ahead, and will be given financial assistance from saved funds. Howlett said: “Meetings in our area that are staged behind closed doors will be allocated funds of £2,000 to £3,000 to support them as a one-off from saved funds. I’m determined that point-to-pointing in East Anglia will go ahead, and we have some superb courses with standards that are second to none.”
Britain’s 2020/21 point-to-point season is set to start at Bishop’s Court in Devon a week on Saturday, although none of the meetings staged before the New Year are expected to be able to admit paying customers.