It’s been a frustrating week following the abandonment of our flat meeting at Chepstow on Tuesday afternoon. We had almost 50mm of rain over the weekend – on top of 50mm that had already fallen since our last fixture on Friday 30th April. We held a course inspection on Monday morning and parts of the track were unsafe for racing so the decision was straightforward.
We are used to losing race meetings to the elements in the winter but it’s unusual to have so much rainfall in May so on top of all the other Covid related challenges at the moment, it’s been a testing time for the Chepstow team. We next race on Saturday 5th June.
Racing did take place on Monday at Chepstow’s sister course – Ffos Las.
There were eight jump races which surprisingly took place on good to soft ground despite a similar deluge of rain to that experienced in Monmouthshire.
Welsh trainers and jockeys ruled the roost kicking off with a double for Sean and Peter Bowen. They took the opening novices’ hurdle with Equus Dancer and followed up with Lermoos Legend owned by former BBC Head of Sport Jonathan Martin.
Sean then rode a third winner of the afternoon aboard Minella Bobo for Pembrokeshire trainer Rebecca Curtis who was also successful in the fourth race with Geordie Des Champs who was sent off at the generous odds of 18-1. Adam Wedge was in the saddle on the latter who is owned by JP McManus.
Adam also went on to secure a double when Marble Man won the first division of the three mile handicap chase for trainer Evan Williams denying Robin of Sherwood, part owned by Llanelli Scarlets scrum half Gareth Davies, a fourth victory of the season.
Another trainer based in Wales, Robert Stephens, got himself on the scoresheet when Tudors Treasure took the second division of the three mile handicap chase under jockey Tom O’Brien. Robert is based at Penhow.
The closing bumper provided a 33-1 surprise winner in the shape of Timeforatune ridden by Robbie Dunne and trained near Brecon by Brian Eckley.
There was also a flurry of Welsh successes over the weekend led by Ffos Las winner Arcade Attraction scoring at Ludlow. The Evan Williams trained gelding has won twice over fences at Ffos Las but on Sunday he was successful over hurdles under the stable’s conditional jockey Niall Moore.
Trainer Sheila Lewis has got a very consistent mare on her hands in the shape of Cotton End. The seven-year-old had been off the track since December but that didn’t make any difference at Ludlow as she won by a length and a half from Glory And Fortune. Ben Jones was in the saddle.
Now the Welsh Government election has taken place we are hoping to see progress on the return of spectators in the coming days and weeks.
Boris Johnson has approved the return of customers to racecourses in England from next Monday 17th May. Carlisle and Redcar will be the first racecourses to welcome back the paying public in England for their Monday afternoon fixtures.
Ironically, we race at Ffos Las on the same day but we will be operating without the public in attendance. Racehorse owners will be allowed to attend with the numbers limited to six people per horse. One positive is that they will be allowed inside the Grandstand which hasn’t been the case up to this point.