Q&A with Peter McNeile,  Chairman of Point-To-Point Committee, Andoversford Races

Q&A with Peter McNeile, Chairman of Point-To-Point Committee, Andoversford Races


Peter’s prestigious career in racecourse management spans over 30 years. Roles have ranged from Director of Sponsorship at Cheltenham to Clerk of the Course at Warwick and Kempton Park. Peter was a key player in the recent success of Barbury International Point-to-Point, and has overseen the growth of Andoversford Races, Gloucestershire into one of the most commercially successful point-to-points in the calendar.


How did you become involved in point-to-point racing?

My mother's housekeeper had a rather interesting partner who had walked straight out of the pages of a 1970s Dick Francis novel. We helped him set up a livery yard, and one of his inmates was a neurotic old chaser who had quite literally been rescued from the queue in the knacker's. I was able to get a few rides on him to get an appetite.


What is your favourite part of the lead-up to a point-to-point?

Racing is often about the anticipation; that goes for the planning of the event as much as the planning of preparing a horse.

For Andoversford Races in particular, I love seeing the daily ticket sales build. When I first embarked on this aspect of the sport, no point-to-point sold tickets in advance. Now I've helped over 40 fixtures to sell in advance. It's very satisfying knowing that you've created an event which instils sufficient confidence to part with money often several weeks before the event.


What is your favourite part of the point-to-point?

Seeing the winners return. Pointing is an amateur sport where the financial returns from prize money is unrealistic. Knowing that you've prepared a horse successfully, and can pick up one of our magnificent great old trophies, is so rewarding. This year each winner will recieve a beautiful photoframe, courtesy of our partnership with Wingfield Digby.


Most inspirational jockey?

Jonjo O’Neill, both as rider and trainer. People often cite the big races like Dawn Run's Gold Cup, but he is also inspirational for beating cancer and forging a second career as a trainer. His youngest has been a contemporary of my youngest son at school, but he's better fed than his Dad!


Most inspirational trainer?

On the Flat no contest - Henry Cecil's intuitive feel for a horse and eye for talent set him apart.
Over Jumps -
Martin Pipe, for having changed the game in terms of scientific knowledge and its application; and Nicky Henderson, for having stayed consistently at the top of his profession.


What did you learn most as Director of Sponsorship at Cheltenham?

The potential that lies within sport to unleash investment. A weakness which crops up consistently at point-to-point meetings is a gap between the evident love of the sport and the lack of confidence from organizers to convert this into financial support. But the British love their horses, so - to all point-to-point organizers - don't undervalue what you have to offer, let’s nurture our events and make them grow!


What is the biggest difference between Andoversford and Hoppegarten?

On the face of it, these two venues are as unalike as you could imagine. In Germany, racing is a tiny sport, despite Germany breeding some world class staying horses; Britain enjoys cultural support and media exposure at every level. However, at both, there is at the heart a core audience who love both the horses and venue.


What is your focus for Andoversford Races?

Our ultimate focus is to raise funds for the Cotswold Hunt, owner of the event.


What are you most excited about for Andoversford Races?

The Robert Hitchins Group Andoversford Grand Annual, introduced last year and one of 2 races worth £1,000 at the meeting.


What are you hoping for Andoversford Races?

For all the runners and riders to return home safe and sound. As last weekend's events at Larkhill illustrate, our sport is perilous. Riders put themselves at risk for our entertainment and it can easy to forget that this is an extreme sport with occasional extreme results.


What is on your Wingfield Digby wish list and why?

I'm a sucker for a good wine, so it would be the wine coasters. The countryside changes with the seasons, and this is reflected in the wine coasters’ different designs.


Don’t miss out! Visit Andoversford Races for racing (horses and camels!), fairground rides, hound parade and more.

When? From 12pm, Sunday 9th April

Where? Andoversford, Gloucestershire GL54 4LQ

Book tickets here.


Explore Andoversford Races on Facebook here / Twitter here

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