This Friday I am keeping my fingers firmly crossed for some good news about the return of spectators to Chepstow and Ffos Las when the Welsh Government gives its latest update on the road map out of Covid. We are expecting customers to be back with us very soon.
It’s unclear how many people will be permitted to attend but whatever happens I will be excited to see people back enjoying a race day. We’ll be posting the latest news on our website and social media feeds. Chepstow’s next meeting – hopefully the last without spectators – is this Saturday 5th June.
The form of the Bowen family has been excellent in recent days. At the time of writing this article, Sean Bowen has ridden three winners from his last four rides and James Bowen has three successes from his last six mounts. Peter Bowen has sent out two winners from his last three runners.
Sean showed why he is one of the country’s top riders with his win aboard Francky Du Berlais at Uttoxter on Sunday. The horse, trained by Peter, came with a storming late run to win by a nose from Pistol Whipped in a race worth £32,500 in prize money.
Sean and Peter’s victories also include that of Lermoos Legend at Ffos Las on Saturday night. The gelding registered back to back victories at the track when he took the 2 mile handicap chase for owner Jonathan Martin. There was plenty of money for the six-year-old who was sent off the 6-4 favourite and scored by a neck from the 66-1 chance Cape Robin.
Jonathan, the former Controller of BBC Sport who worked alongside the likes of David Coleman, Harry Carpenter and Des Lynam back in the day, has been a long standing owner in the Bowen yard with one of his best known horses being multiple winner Strumble Head.
Another Welsh jockey in the Winners' Enclosure at Ffos Las on Saturday evening was Ben Jones who was successful on Jemima P trained by Emma Lavelle.
Ben, like the Bowen brothers, is in tremendous form with three winners from his last six rides (at the time of writing) including the impressive Jaq Brown for Carmarthenshire trainer Debra Hamer at Worcester last week.
The veteran trainer Brian Eckley, who is based in the Brecon Beacons, is a man with a smile on his face after selling one of his horses for £175,000 at the Cheltenham Tattersalls sales. Brian bred five-year-old Timeforatune and the gelding won impressively by eleven lengths first time out at Ffos Las on May 10th. Bloodstock agent David Minton purchased the horse and it will be fascinating to watch his progress in the coming years.
Brian, who has now recovered from injuries sustained in a riding fall in January, says it’s the best sale he’s ever had. He sold a horse called Tomwontpayalot 20 years ago to Martin Pipe for £140,000.
Verdana Blue, who gave Welsh jockey Connor Brace the biggest success of his career when she won the Scottish Champion Hurdle in 2019, has been retired to stud by trainer Nicky Henderson. The mare won £340,000 in prize money.
Finally, don’t forget to go and see the new movie Dream Horse which opens in cinemas this Friday. As I mentioned last week it’s based on the fairy tale story of 2009 Welsh Grand National winner Dream Alliance who was bred an allotment in the Welsh Valleys. I am of course biased but the movie shows what can be achieved in life if you simply have a go – no matter how much the odds are stacked against you.