Track Talk With Simon Rowlands - 3rd February


03 February 2021

A trawl through the history books has revealed that this year is the 100th anniversary of the Welsh Champion Hurdle. The race was first run in 1921 at Cardiff’s Ely Racecourse over a distance of three miles and was worth £442 to the winning owner. The course closed in 1939.

The race was a prestigious event when run at Chepstow from 1969 with some of the very best hurdlers in the history of the sport taking the prize including Persian War, Bula, Comedy of Errors, Sea Pigeon, Night Nurse, Monksfield and Beech Road. 

Chepstow stopped running the race in 2003 after a series of renewals with small fields but it was resurrected when the course opened at Ffos Las. The first running in West Wales was in 2011 when the winner was Oscar Whisky, owned by the course developer and founder Dai Walters. 

It’s now a two mile event, won last year by the Alan King trained Sceau Royal, and this year’s centenary will be on Saturday 16th October – hopefully in front of a decent sized crowd.

Just touching on Cardiff’s Ely Racecourse again. It opened in May 1855 and was also the original home of the Welsh Grand National and was the location of one of the biggest betting coups in the history of the event. In 1929 the seven-year-old gelding Monduco who, despite not having run in Britain before and apparently having little form to recommend him, was backed from 20-1 down to 2-1 and won by a length from Ruddyman.

Our next fixture at Ffos Las is this Thursday 4th February when we have seven races from 1.25pm live on Sky Sports Racing. We’ve had 127 entries and the ground is going to be extremely testing. There’s also racing at Chepstow this Friday when the conditions will be equally challenging.

Jockey Sean Bowen moved on to the 52nd winner mark for the season when he rode The Late Legend to victory at Doncaster on Saturday. It was Sean’s fourth win on the eight-year-old gelding who has risen from a handicap mark of 76 to 112 since last March with another increase now on its way.

Trainer Milton Bradley, who is based just outside Chepstow, is retiring at the age of 86. He’s been training for 50 years and sent out more than 1000 winners. One of the horses he will be best remembered for is The Tatling who he claimed for just £15,000. In a remarkable success story, the horse won £700,000 in prize money including the prestigious King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2004.

Milton, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 Welsh Horse Racing Awards, has been proud of the fact that most of the horses he’s purchased have been ‘modest’ buys. He’s never paid more than £25,000 for a horse, which by modern day standards is relatively cheap.

Finally, trainer Peter Bowen is recruiting full-time work riders and yard staff. If anyone is interested, call Peter on 07811 111234 or e-mail

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