A HORSE race organiser fears the recently imposed hunting ban could eventually mean the end of point-to-point fence-jumping events.

Christopher Hodgson, clerk of the course at Whittington Races, near Kirkby Lonsdale, said that if hunt members dropped their hobby, crucial support in organising and sponsoring the traditional horse jumping events would disappear.

"In the worst-case scenario, in the long term, it could stop the thing running," warned Mr Hodgson.

However, he said the anticipated knock-on effect of the hunting ban would not bite for a few years.

Roger Westmoreland, master of the hunt for Coniston Foxhounds, said that the rules for participation in a point-to-point race, which requires qualification by riding in a hunt, might have to be changed.

Mr Hodgson voiced his fears as final preparations were being made for the Holcombe Hunt's point-to-point tomorrow, Saturday (March 12), at Whittington, near Kirkby Lonsdale.

Last year, the event was cancelled when high winds meant racing would have been unsafe and, as Mr Hodgson said, the organisers lost "a lot of money".

This year, a team of around ten volunteers have, for weeks, spent their Saturdays and Sundays building birch fences, preparing the ground and putting up signs.

Mr Hodgson said: "It's a traditional countryside event and to lose it would be a real shame."

He denied such activities as hunting and point-to-pointing were only for toffs': "We get a great cross-section of people, all sorts of people, farmers and people from local caravan parks. It's definitely not a sort of public schoolboys' day out."

The event is one of two held annually at the site, which Mr Hodgson said was the only racecourse in Lancashire.

The other event is the Vale of Lune Hunt-organised meeting held on March 26, which includes a hunt ride' with members in full regalia riding a single lap of the course.

The hunt ride was a fixture of the event many years ago, but was reinstated this year.

For more information about the races go to www.whittingtonraces.co.uk or call 01697-748157.