Coronavirus wipes out this Saturday's point to point meeting at Overton Farm in Crossford

The organiser of Clydesdale’s best attended sporting event – the annual point to point horse racing in Crossford – has outlined his frustration that this Saturday’s staging has been cancelled due to coronavirus fears.

Monday, 16th March 2020, 5:20 pm
Updated Monday, 16th March 2020, 5:21 pm
Action from last year's meeting at Overton Farm (Pic by Ian McFadyen)

The recommendation by Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that all events of 500 people or more should not take place in Scotland amid Vovid-19 worries from Monday led to Willie Young and other members of his committee putting off the Overton Farm event’s 2020 edition.

“We’ve done this because of the Scottish Government’s recommendation,” Willie told the Carluke and Lanark Gazette.

“People’s health is the main thing here.

“Personally I don’t think calling this off will make any difference, but if that’s the ruling that the Government’s put out – that you’re not to mingle – you have to abide by the rules.

“We called it off after a committee meeting on Sunday. It was a unanimous decision.

“What else could you do?

“It doesn’t seem to be the same in England but the Scottish Government is advising against events which have over 500 people going ahead.

“We thought before there was any more expenditure put out, it was better just to be called off.

“Racing was going on at Kelso today (Monday) but there were no spectators.

“We couldn’t do that here.

“I’m very disappointed we’ve had to cancel because there has been a lot of work put into it already.”

Willie said that around £10,000 had been spent to get the venue ready for this weekend’s event, run by Lanark and Renfrewshire and Eglinton Hunt who rent the land.

This included expenses to build birch fences, the track and railings, plus toilet hire.

If the event had gone ahead this Saturday, Willie – who estimates he’ll get £2500 refunded through insurance – doesn’t think the crowds would have stayed away over coronavirus fears.

He added: “The crowd size would have been down to the weather, that’s the biggest thing.

“We had a full house of bookings for the hospitality and that was 1000 people.

“So we had to cancel that and send their money back.”

The point to point meeting at Overton Farm has regularly attracted 5000 crowds since it started around 15 years ago.

Before the coronavirus crisis, it was seen as a great family day out with catering alone expected to generate sales of between £2000 and £3000 this year.

Willie, who doesn’t think that self isolation for the over-70s is a good idea, is gutted that racing fans won’t be flocking to Crossford this spring.

He added: “The indications are that there will be no more point to point meetings in Scotland until this ruling is lifted.

“We hope to be back next year.”