Lots of fun to be had with the AGA Jokers – for boys and girls!

So, what’s the story with these AGA jokers?

Well, we’ve created a new championship this season that can be won by both the boys and the girls, and we’ll be taking it to every region of Britain. To give it a twist we have introduced the AGA jokers, which were designed and painted by a very talented colleague of mine, Silvena Toncheva (she’s also a great photographer).

The (very talented) face behind the jokers!
The (very talented) face behind the jokers, Silvena Toncheva

The championship consists of 20 fixtures and at each of these fixtures there will be a leading rider award. This will be won by the rider who accumulates the most points on the day. Every race on the card counts, and points are awarded as follows: 1st – 10pts, 2nd – 6pts, 3rd – 4pts. The twist involves the AGA Joker, which can be played twice during the season and which will double any points that are scored.

The new championship logo
The new championship logo

The leading rider at each of the 20 meetings will also qualify for the ‘AGA Grand Prix Leading Rider Championship’. We recognise that one person could win the leading rider award at several different meetings, so only their best score will count for the championship. The champion will win an AGA City60 cooker and this will be presented at Stratford Racecourse on Friday 20th May. In addition to the leading rider award, we will also sponsor the ladies or mixed open race at each of the 20 fixtures.

AGA fixtures for 2015/15
AGA fixtures for 2015/16

During the past few weeks the jokers have been out and about in the point-to-point and racing community, and they also featured at the Point-to-point Authority Press and media Day last week. As you can see from the photos, the reaction has been fantastic and the jokers will be out and about throughout November as we continue the build up to the first AGA fixture at Barbury Racecourse on December 6th.

The jokers have the seal of approval from the jump boys, including Sam Twiston-Davies, number one jockey to Britain s champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls
The jokers also have the seal of approval from the jump boys, including Sam Twiston-Davies, number one jockey to Britain s champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls
You wouldn't bet against Jane winning another AGA!
You wouldn’t bet against Jane winning another AGA!
Katy Lyons came very close last season and she'll be going for it again this time around.
Katy Lyons came very close last season and she’ll be going for it again this time around
The most successful AGA lady ever, Jane Williams, the AGA man and Brodie Hampson
The most successful AGA lady ever, Jane Williams, the AGA man and Brodie Hampson
Who's this hiding behind the jokers?
Who’s this hiding behind the jokers?
It's Sarah Pollard and Lucy Wheeler from the Point-to-Point Racing Company!
It’s Sarah Pollard and Lucy Wheeler from the Point-to-Point Racing Company!
Gina Ellis came within a whisker of winning the AGA last season, and you can bet that she will be trying again this time around!
National ladies champion, Gina Ellis came within a whisker of winning the AGA last season, and you can bet that she will be going all out to win it this time around!
Sam Davies-Thomas will be fancying his chances of bagging the AGA, especially with the recent news that some of his fellow South Midlands jockeys are hanging up their boots!
Sam Davies-Thomas will be fancying his chances of bagging the AGA, especially with the recent news that some of his fellow South Midlands jockeys are hanging up their boots!

There is a theme to these jokers by the way, the pink one is for the boys and the yellow one for the girls – although it is rather obvious if you look closely!

Nice cap, Sam!
Nice cap, Sam!

The Point-to-Point Authority Press and Media day took place at Stratford last Thursday (29th October) and it provided an opportunity for all of the National Sponsors to give an update on their plans for the new season. It also provided me with an opportunity to show off our jokers!

PPA Press and Media Day - a pink joker for the boys!
PPA Press and Media Day – a pink joker for the boys!
PPA Press and Media Day - a yellow joker for the girls!
PPA Press and Media Day – a yellow joker for the girls!
Minty was first up to tell everyone about the recent changes, as ever, Luke did a fantastic job as compere
Minty was first up to tell everyone about the recent changes, as ever, Luke Harvey did a fantastic job as compere

We’re heading into our sixth and final year as a national sponsor and I’ll be very sad to step away from my involvement as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being the front man and driving force behind our sponsorship project, however, as I told the audience, I’ll be a point-to-point horse racing ambassador for life!

Steve Eardley from Subaru tells Luke about their impressive plans for the season ahead
Steve Eardley from Subaru tells Luke about their impressive plans for the season ahead
Hopefully the Subaru brand will become as synonymous with point-to-point racing as the AGA brand
Hopefully the Subaru brand will become as synonymous with point-to-point racing as the AGA brand
I've learnt a lot from Dai, and he's very amusing on facebook!
The chap on the left needs no introduction, he’s the man behind the Connolly’s sponsorship and there’s not many people in the pointing community who haven’t heard of Dai Jones!
I've learnt a lot from Dai, he's also very amusing on facebook!
I’ve learnt a lot from Dai, he’s also very amusing on facebook!

It was my turn next and the introduction from Luke Harvey made me smile, he said “this will be the easiest interview I’ve ever done”, although I think he has surpassed that today (Tuesday, 2nd November) when he interviewed Mattie Batch after the ‘Stable Stars’ Coming Soon On attheraces.com Novices’ Handicap Chase, from Plumpton.

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Spot the jokers...
Spot the jokers…
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More gesticulating from the AGA man!

It’s a great line-up of sponsors and there’s lots to look forward to, particularly for AGA and Subaru, as we have some great ideas for some reciprocal marketing – and not just in the point-to-point community.

William McGrath (AGA Rangemaster Group CEO) chats to Steph Holmes, who is handling the PR and Media for Subaru UK P2P
William McGrath (former AGA Rangemaster Group CEO) chats to Steph Holmes, who is handling the PR and Media for Subaru UK P2P
Steph and the AGA man with some strategically placed branding!
Steph and the AGA man with some strategically placed branding!
A surprise guest was Victoria Pendleton, who is Great Britain's most successful female Olympian, she is also an incredibly nice person.
A surprise guest was Victoria Pendleton, who is Great Britain’s most successful female Olympian, she is also an incredibly nice person.

Point-to-Point horse racing rarely, if ever, makes it onto the sports pages on a national level, but Victoria Pendleton puts it on the news pages. That’s pretty impressive!

L-R Steph Holmes, Clare Hazel, Victoria Pendleton, David Simpson - thanks to Matt Hazel for the photo!
L-R Steph Holmes, Clare Hazel, Victoria Pendleton, David Simpson – thanks to Matt Hazel for the photo!

The day was also about meeting some new contacts – including the two newest members of the PPA team (Becci and Cara) – and catching up with people not seen since the end of last season.

L-R: Becci Thompson, AGA man, Clare Hazel - the joker is in the middle...
L-R: Becci Thompson, AGA man, Clare Hazel – the joker is in the middle…
Under the rather smart Subaru umbrella are, L-R: Lucy Wheeler, Steph Holmes and Cara O'Reilly
Under the rather smart Subaru umbrella are, L-R: Lucy Wheeler, Steph Holmes and Cara O’Reilly

IMG_0001 IMG_0004 IMG_0008 IMG_0013 IMG_0021 IMG_0025 IMG_0029 IMG_0036

A few years again I was sat in this chap's office and he told me to become the AGA man...
A few years again I was sat in this chap’s office and he told me to become the AGA man…

I’ve learnt an awful lot – and I’m still learning – during the last five years, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as the ‘AGA man’ and I’m proud of the impact that the AGA sponsorship has had on pointing. We’ve raised the bar considerably and also helped to raise the profile of the sport, in particular, ladies point-to-point racing.

Guess who?
Guess who?

What next for the AGA man? I don’t know, although I’m certain that it will be exciting!

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