The Point-to-Point Authority (PPA) has today announced that Caroline Bailey is to become Chair of the organisation, replacing Andrew Merriam, who has completed a six-year term.
Andrew wished his successor well, saying, “Caroline’s appointment is the culmination of a long process, that has resulted in an excellent new Chair who is steeped in the sport of point-to-pointing. I have huge respect for Caroline who I have known for many years. I wish her the very best in a role which I have found immensely satisfying and enjoyable.”
Caroline is a well-known face to many in the point-to-point community, having been involved in the sport all her life. Famously, her father – Dick Saunders – became the oldest winner of the Grand National when riding Grittar to victory aged 48, the pair having achieved the Cheltenham and Aintree Foxhunters double the previous year.
Caroline herself was no mean horsewoman, having competed internationally for Great Britain in both Pony Club and Three Day Events and riding over 50 winners between the flags and under rules – she was the first female jockey to ride a winner at Cheltenham
Having assisted her father running their hunting and point-to-point livery yard while riding, she took over the training of the pointers full-time when she retired from the saddle in 1987 and won all the ‘big three’ Hunter Chases – the Cheltenham Foxhunters and Horse & Hound Cup with Castle Mane and at Aintree with Gunner Welburn. Among other top-class horses she trained were Secret Bay, Teeton Mill and Teaplanter.
In 2006, Caroline took out a licence to train under rules, and her best horse was probably Crosspark, who won the Eider Chase and was second in the Scottish Grand National. Training of her pointers passed to husband Gerald, although she remained closely involved with the point-to-point community and could be seen on the track most weekends.
Since retiring from training in 2022, Caroline has taken up stewarding at point-to-points and has sat on the BHA Judicial Panel Appointments Committee.
Caroline said of her new role, “whilst a huge challenge, I am delighted and honoured to have been chosen for this wonderful role. I am very much looking forward to getting round the country to meet people from all aspects of our wonderful sport and hear their views.”