Track Talk With General Manager Simon Rowlands - 12 October


12 October 2021

This weekend sees the highlight of the Ffos Las racing calendar, the £50,000 Potter Group Welsh Champion Hurdle, which takes place on Saturday 16th October. The race was first run 100 years ago in the Cardiff suburb of Ely.   

There are seven races from 1.40pm and the gates open at 11.40am. Don’t forget our bus service from Llanelli Railway Station – timings are on our website. After racing there will be a performance from the Oasis Experience on the ground floor of the Grandstand. 

Some of the biggest equine stars have won the Welsh Champion Hurdle over the years including Night Nurse, Bula, Lanzarote, The New One, Persian War, Beech Road, Comedy of Errors and Sea Pigeon. The last two winners of the race, Monsieur Lecoq and Sceau Royal, are among the fourteen entries this weekend. 

Following the latest announcement from the Welsh government, all visitors will need to have a ‘Covid Pass’ to attend.  This is simply either a copy of your vaccination letter/certificate or proof of a negative Covid lateral flow test (please note a vaccine record card is not valid).  These just need to be shown as you walk through the gates and don’t need to be provided in advance.  There will also be a Covid testing facility available – see further details on the website. 

Chepstow’s £400,000 Unibet Jump Season Opener at the weekend attracted a bumper attendance of 8000 on Saturday enjoying some high-class racing.   

The Philip Hobbs stable wasn’t at its best last season, but three winners in two days at this meeting have given them a great boost.  Making fewer headlines was the victory of local trainer Grace Harris in Friday’s finale with On Call, a horse that Joseph O’Brien couldn’t win with.  He made virtually all the running over three miles and 18 fences. 

Respite from the handicapper helped the 28/1 shot, as did new tactics.  Harris explained, “He's had a break and we've realised you have to keep kicking on him from the word go, and we've tried that today.”  She is confident On Call will be fine on softer ground, judging by his high knee action.  It was jockey Conor Ring’s first winner since May, but his determination to win earned him an eleven day whip ban. 

Kitty’s Light ran another gallant race in defeat for Christian Williams, going down by a head in the Native River Handicap Chase.  Most unfortunately deprived of the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April by the erratic finishing effort of one of his opponents, the five-year-old already has abundant stamina and enthusiasm.  The trainer has mentioned the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury as the next possible target. 

The Brace family enjoyed success on the Saturday with Paint The Dream (photographed), owned by David and ridden by his grandson Connor.  Three years ago Brace senior decided to send this horse to Fergal O’Brien rather than train it himself, and that has been justified by his rise through the ranks.  He was third in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novice Chase at Sandown in February and won Saturday’s two and a half mile handicap by almost ten lengths off a rating of 147.  The Paddy Power at Cheltenham must be on the agenda next. 

On Sunday Brace rode another winner for O’Brien at Goodwood, of all places.  It was in their annual race on the flat for professional jump jockeys.  At the Sussex track an hour later David Probert took his score for the year to 135, leaving his old personal best of 112 further and further behind.   

Sean Bowen went up to Hexham for three rides for Irish trainer John McConnell, with whom he has a fruitful partnership (9-23).  One of them won, making the long journey worthwhile.  

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