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Track Talk From Regional Director Phil Bell - 07/03/2023


07 March 2023

It was an honour to be invited to Number 10 Downing Street last week for a reception to celebrate St David’s Day. Around 100 guests from Welsh business, leisure and culture were present at the event which was attended by the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The Secretary of State for Wales (and Monmouthshire MP) David Davies was among the numerous MPs in attendance.  

Among the other guests - which included Max Boyce MBE, Sir Bryn Terfel and Amy Dowden from Strictly Come Dancing - was 18-year-old Daniel Lewis from Merthyr Tydfil who was invited for his community work collecting around 40 tonnes of rubbish scattered by fly tippers across the Welsh Valleys. He had never been to London in his life.  

I think we will name a race after him at Chepstow. 

One of the most engaging jockeys in the Weighing Room is Alan Johns who is based with trainer Tim Vaughan near Cowbridge. He’s also ridden winners for Devon trainer Victor Dartnall for a long time and the pair enjoyed a 177/1 double at Ffos Las on Sunday. Haldon Hill took the richest race of the day, the DragonBet Backing Welsh Sport Handicap Chase over three miles.  The ten-year-old, wearing cheekpieces on for the first time, had never run over this distance before.  Stamina was no problem, though; he was up with the pace all the way and won cosily.   

Their second easy winner came in the 2m4f mares’ hurdle, when Atjima left her previous form well behind.  The 20/1 shot failed to complete her last two starts, but today she cruised into contention three flights out and ran away with the race 

Isabel Williams suffered no ill-effects from a nasty fall at Newbury the day before when driving her father Evan’s Puddlesinthepark to victory in the 3m hurdle.  The horse showed a glimmer of ability last time out and built on that over this longer trip, taking the lead after the final flight and outbattling his rival. 

Saturday’s valuable meeting at Kelso yielded a couple of Welsh winners. 

Richard Patrick was there to ride the improving Nemean Lion in their Grade 2 Premier Novices Hurdle.  Always going well just behind the leaders, he moved up between the last two flights of hurdles and despite a mistake there, he drew two lengths clear on the run-in.  He’s best on soft ground, so is unlikely to run at Cheltenham.  It was consolation for Patrick soon after learning he had received an eight-day ban for whip offences during Eaton Collina’s recent Chepstow win. 

Earlier Sean Bowen had won a novice chase on Bill Baxter, getting into a good rhythm from the outset.  That enabled him to make all the running.  Bowen lost an iron halfway up the run-in but used all his strength and powers of balance to keep his mount going and triumph in a head-bobbing finish.   His brother James would normally ride this Warren Greatrex-trained horse, but he is out of action with a broken arm.     

David Evans, fresh from training a 50/1 winner in a Ludlow maiden hurdle on Thursday, was on more familiar territory at Lingfield, where he saddled Mabre to take the mile handicap.  It was the horse’s seventh win. At Huntingdon James Davies rode his 15th winner of the season on Just Sophie. She went clear between the last two obstacles to win by four lengths.  

There’s racing at Chepstow on Mothering Sunday 19th March and Thursday 23rd March with the next meeting at Ffos Las on Wednesday 22nd March. 

Finally, we had a meeting with the team from Live Nation on Monday to progress plans for this summer’s concerts with Lionel Richie, George Ezra and Lewis Capaldi. Tickets are still available for all three shows from Ticketmaster. 

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