Track Talk With Simon Rowlands - 13 January


13 January 2021

You would like to think in this current climate of uncertainty and challenges, not just for the racing industry but everyone, a little bit of good fortune might head your way but after last week’s events at Ffos Las I’m not feeling particularly lucky!

After severe weather at Chepstow and the cancellation of the Coral Welsh Grand National on Sunday 27th December, we entered the New Year with Ffos Las racing on Thursday 7th January. 

Preparations went well. We hadn’t held a race meeting since November (the fixture on December 14th was abandoned due to waterlogging) so the track was in good shape. Covers were laid on the most vulnerable areas to protect the surface from the forecast colder conditions. 

On the evening of Wednesday 6th, we knew temperatures might drop to -4C so we called a precautionary inspection for 8am on race day. When we looked at the course, even though the sun was shining, it was obvious we would need more time for the frost to come out of the ground so we called another inspection for 10am. It still wasn’t raceable so we scheduled another look at 11am when again it wasn’t passable but was getting very close. 

All the horses, jockeys, stable staff and race day officials had made the journey down to Carmarthenshire and we wanted to get racing on if we possibly could particularly as so much jump racing has been called off in recent weeks.

Just after midday, jockeys and trainers joined the race day stewards to see if the remaining frozen patches had disappeared. After a lengthy debate between all parties, it was decided by the stewards that the racing surface wasn’t 100% safe to use. The meeting was abandoned fifteen minutes before the first scheduled race.

As many readers may agree, when certain decisions don’t go your way you can begin to over analyse, overthink and start blaming yourself particularly on this occasion when everyone had put in a huge effort and lots of people had travelled long distances.

The summary was that we felt we had a strong chance of going ahead but the weather won this time. We have to take it on the chin and move on.

82 miles up the road, the team at Chepstow had completed the covering of the track, using around 5500 metres of fleece to protect the surface from frost for the Coral Welsh Grand National on Saturday. On this occasion, the temperatures didn’t drop much below -2C and the meeting went ahead. 

One man extremely grateful was Vale of Glamorgan trainer Evan Williams who sent out the hot favourite Secret Reprieve to take the prize under jockey Adam Wedge. It meant back to back victories for Welsh trained horses following the success of Potters Corner in 2019. Congratulations.

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