When the Bench and Bar Pegasus Club staged its first point-to-point race in 1895, the crowd was treated to the spectacle of judges and barristers galloping over fences and, as one press report observed, ‘It was an unusual experience to watch the man who prosecuted you at the Sessions breaking his blooming neck at the open ditch or to ‘buz’ a Lord Chancellor for his ‘clock’.’

Now, 125 years later, the Pegasus Club, the oldest remaining saddle club in the country, still holds its annual point-to-point race.

Founded on 3 April 1895, the object of the club was to arrange for annual point-to-point races to be ridden by Members of the Inns of Court. The first president of the club was Lord Russell of Killowen, Lord Chief Justice of England, and a convention soon developed that the presidency would alternate between a member of the judiciary and a member of the Bar.

The first Pegasus Club point-to-point race was held on the 10 April 1895 at Coombe, near Wimbledon. This year’s takes place on 26 March 2022 at Siddington, near Cirencester in Gloucestershire.

In the intervening years, the race has been staged at various courses around the country, and previous winning riders have included Sir Robin Dunn MC, Sir Sanderson Temple QC, Sir Michael Connell, Lord Scott of Foscote and Sir Michael Turner.

For many years, the club held an entire meeting of its own with lightweight and heavyweight races, Inns of Court and ladies’ races and the Pegasus Club challenge cup. The club still has all the cups for these races, which we display at our annual dinner (held at the Garrick Club). The winning owner now receives the Pegasus Club challenge cup, with the Ladies cup going to the first woman rider past the post.

Traditionally, we organised riding opportunities for members and most recently this was exercising horses of The King’s Troop. Sadly, when they moved premises, this opportunity was lost but we are currently looking at other options. This will depend on take-up and we welcome interest from current and prospective members.

As well as the point-to-point and annual dinner, the club is also planning gatherings at an evening meeting at Windsor racecourse and Ham polo club this summer.

The pool of race riding barristers is not what it was, so to promote runners there is no longer a requirement that the horse must be ridden by a member of the club. As an alternative, the horse must either be owned by a club member or can be leased for the day by a club member – leasing is an arrangement whereby a horse can run but in the name of a member of the Bar.

The race, held at Siddington since 2009, is a very enjoyable event for jockeys, owners and spectators alike. Ours is the fifth race on the card of six races, which begin at 1.30pm. The course is three miles south of Cirencester (historic Roman town and capital of the Cotswolds) and lies between the A419 and M4 (Sat Nav: GL7 6DB). Kemble train station is four miles away. We have a section of the marquee in front of the paddock next to the weighing room, where we lay on food and drink. All members of the Bar are welcome, whether currently members or not. Viewing at the course is excellent. 

Anyone wanting more information about the Bar race or who is interested in running a horse should contact the point-to-point secretary, Chris Smyth, on 07770 770544. Club membership is £25 per annum. To join, or for any other information, please contact secpegasus@gmail.com.