It was great to actually stage a race meeting last Thursday after we’d suffered a series of abandonments due to frost or flooding.
One trainer no doubt delighted that we went ahead was Pembrokeshire based Dai Rees - he had a double with Steel Native and Kiera Royale. Jockey Charlie Hammond rode them both.
Welsh trained winners were the order of the day with Candy Burg scoring for Peter Bowen and The Wire Flyer taking the final race easily for John Flint. The successful jockeys were James Bowen and Isabel Williams respectively.
At Chepstow on Friday, the Coral Welsh Grand National connections of trainer Evan Williams, jockey Adam Wedge and owners William and Angela Rucker had another exciting winner when No Rematch made a very impressive debut over fences.
The gelding had been off the track for almost a year but he certainly didn’t look ring rusty and won relatively easily. He looks a Welsh Grand National horse in the making. Secret Reprieve, who took the prize in January, could possibly run in the Grand National at Aintree.
With fixtures across the UK under threat from the cold weather this week, we have taken all the precautions we can to protect the track ahead of our meeting on Thursday.
The running rails on both the chase and hurdle courses have been moved to provide fresh ground. We have also laid frost covers on the take offs and landing areas. The ground staff team started and finished in the dark to get the work completed. I’m lucky to have such a professional, hard working team.
There is a debate within racing at the moment about how late courses leave the decision on whether they can race when conditions are cold and frosty. The situation occurred at Ffos Las last month and it happened again last week at our sister course Sedgefield when several jockeys including James Bowen made the long journey north only to see the meeting abandoned at 12.30pm after four course inspections.
Opinion on the issue does seem to be divided with some observers believing we should give racing every chance of going ahead and others thinking we should make an early call. I think that if we genuinely believe racing has a chance of proceeding we should, after taking careful consideration of the weather forecast, try our best to make it happen.
Last year’s Cheltenham Festival produced a fantastic winner for Pembrokeshire trainer Rebecca Curtis when Lisnagar Oscar won the Stayers Hurdle at odds of 50-1 and this year’s race is still very much on the agenda. The horse has had a breathing operation since his last run at Newbury and will run in a handicap hurdle at Exeter before heading back to defend his crown.