We are meeting this week with the Welsh Government to discuss the path towards the return of spectators. It now almost a year since customers came through the turnstiles at Ffos Las and we are keen to see how the Welsh authorities will react to Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of the pandemic for England.
It’s very difficult to guess what might happen but we are hoping for trials with spectators potentially in May or early June.
Regardless of when these trials might take place, our preparations are already underway to ensure we have a safe environment awaiting our customers. We have been racing behind closed doors for many months now and have a tried and tested set of coronavirus procedures in place.
James and Sean Bowen are both in the running for Ride of the Month after their efforts in recent days.
Last Thursday at Chepstow James rode one of the most bizarre winners of his career.
He was aboard the Nicky Henderson trained Mot A Mot when his rein snapped in the early part of the contest. Somehow despite only riding with the one remaining rein, he managed to stay aboard the whole race and won by a comfortable six lengths.
Fortunately, the race was on the flat so no hurdles or fences were jumped – that would have been a different proposition! It will definitely go down as one of the rides of the season.
Sean’s ride on Hooligan for trainer Tom George at Newcastle on Saturday was another impressive effort. The 5-4 favourite never really looked to be travelling in the 2m handicap hurdle and looked long odds-against as he trailed the field turning for home.
Yet Sean never admitted defeat, kept after his mount and was rewarded as the six-year-old came from last to first, leading close home for a half-length win. A superb effort from rider and horse.
And talking of never say die rides, I must mention Jack Tudor who scored aboard Newland Cross also at Chepstow on Thursday. In the closing stages of the 3m 2f handicap chase, Sandford Castle had swept clear and looked certain to win but Jack wasn’t giving up (having been passed by the leader) and fought back to get up on the line and score by a neck.
These three rides just go to highlight the strength in depth in the ranks of Welsh jockeys at the moment.
Next month it’s the Cheltenham Festival and I’ll be keeping an eye on the horses competing that have won at Ffos Las. These include Tritonic, successful with us on the flat in August 2019 and an impressive winner at Kempton on Saturday on only his second run over hurdles. He’s owned by Max McNeill, one of the leading owners in the UK at the moment. He’s heading for the Triumph Hurdle.
Last year’s Potter Group Welsh Champion Hurdle winner Sceau Royal will run in the Queen Mother Champion Chase following his victory over fences at Newbury ten days ago. The nine-year-old has won 13 races since joining Alan King as a three-year-old and has amassed £460,000 is prize money.
Good luck to all the connections.