All horse racing fixtures in Wales will continue behind closed doors under review with stringent safety measures in place until further notice. Unfortunately owners will not be permitted to attend mee

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BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

Friday 5th February - Behind Closed Doors

Fri 05 February 2021

Track Talk With Phil Bell

Racing
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31 December 2020

Vale of Glamorgan trainer Evan Williams has been a big player in jump racing across the UK for many years now but last weekend’s victory for Silver Streak in the Grade One Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle at Kempton will have given him a huge amount of satisfaction.

The flying grey made all the running under jockey Adam Wedge to defeat the current champion hurdler Epatante who was sent off the 1-5 favourite. It was a well deserved first Grade One victory for the seven-year-old who won the Welsh Champion Hurdle in 2018.

His career prize money earnings are now £438,000 and there’s plenty more mileage in the tank. He’s a credit to everyone concerned with him. 

It could have been a superb Christmas for the Williams yard had Sunday’s £150,000 Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow gone ahead. They were due to saddle two fancied runners, the favourite Secret Reprieve and also Prime Venture. But the meeting fell to the elements and has been rescheduled for Saturday 9 January.

After more than 220mm of rain at Chepstow in December, including 27mm during Storm Bella the night before racing, one section of the track in the back straight proved impassable and unfit for racing. It was hugely frustrating for the racecourse team particularly the ground staff who did everything they could to get the meeting on.

The Coral Welsh Grand National and the Coral Finale Hurdle will be shown live on ITV 4 as part their coverage on January 9 which also features races from Kempton and Wincanton.  

Looking back to this year’s Welsh Horse Racing Awards, it was great to see Charlie Price win the Rising Star award. The young conditional jockey is attached to Tim Vaughan’s yard in the Vale of Glamorgan.

He didn’t sit on a horse until he was 15, but quickly made up for lost time by becoming the Arab racing novice champion rider before turning to riding over jumps.  13 winners have come in the last year, during which he won the BHA’s Racing Excellence Conditional Training Series award. 

The judging panel also recognised the progress made by another young rider, Isabel Williams, daughter of trainer Evan, notably her recent four-timer aboard Memphis Bell.

The Stable Staff Recognition Award went to 18-year-old Katie Powell who works for trainer Sheila Lewis. The yard, based near Hay-On-Wye, has had nine wins so far this season from six horses in training and Katie schools them all as well as breaking in the younger horses. 

She also has an amateur’s licence and won on her first-ever ride in a hurdle race at Exeter in October aboard Knight Commander. A few days later she rode Stupid Cupid to victory over fences at Ludlow.  Good luck in your career Katie. 

Discussions with Welsh Government about pilot events with spectators will continue in January. As I mentioned last week, any decision will depend on the Covid rate per 100,000 reducing significantly before we receive positive news.

I’d like to wish all readers a Happy New Year and better fortunes in 2021. This year is definitely one most of us will want to forget.

Chepstow Racecourse

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