The weather once again intervened last week when the freezing conditions put paid to our fixture on Thursday. This time around it was a straightforward decision because of the severity of the conditions and we pulled stumps on Wednesday morning. We were one of many meetings called off last week because of the Arctic weather.
It was obviously very frustrating for our Clerk of the Course Dai Jones and his team of ground staff who had spent hours putting down frost covers and moving rails to try and get the meeting on. It can be a thankless task at times.
Our next meeting is on Thursday 1st April when the feature race is the West Wales National over three and a half miles. We’re looking forward to seeing the entries with the prize won previously by some of the leading jump racing yards including Dan Skelton, Venetia Williams and Evan Williams.
By the time this fixture takes place, we are expecting to have received some clarity on when spectators might be allowed to return to the track. There is a meeting with Welsh Government and other elite sports in Wales in early March to discuss the situation.
Based on earlier conversations with government officials, there is no doubt that, once approved, the first meetings with spectators will be restricted to relatively small numbers – likely to be between 250 and 500. This will allow our systems and procedures for managing the venue safely to be tested thoroughly before larger volumes of people are admitted.
As soon as we get any news on trials with spectators it will be relayed via e-mails to our customers, our website and social media feeds.
Due to the short break before we race next at Ffos Las, I’ll be spending time working with the team at Chepstow in the coming weeks. The next meeting at the Monmouthshire track is on Thursday 25th February and includes a qualifier for the Grade 3 Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Pertemps Final is, like all the races at the festival, incredibly competitive and in 2019 it was very nearly won by the Carmarthenshire trained Tobefair from the yard of Paul and Debra Hamer. He was sent off at odds of 40-1 so the punters didn’t think victory was likely but the horse nearly proved his doubters wrong and lost by just a neck to the Gordon Elliott trained favourite Sire Du Berlais. Despite the defeat, it must have been a brilliant day out for his owners the Down The Quay Club.
One of the projects we are working on across both Ffos Las and Chepstow is looking at how we can assist Welsh trainers find more racehorse owners. The coronavirus pandemic is having an impact on the levels of horses in training across the UK with some training yards reporting a reduction in numbers. As an industry we must all work together to keep the show on the road.
In Wales we are fortunate to have some excellent racehorse trainers and we’ll be doing our bit to promote them via our marketing channels in the coming months.