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Track Talk With Phil Bell - 19th January


19 January 2021

Like many businesses we remain in limbo regarding the rest of 2021. 

It’s difficult to know when race meeting trials with spectators will take place and it’s even harder to work out when significant numbers of racegoers will be allowed through our entrance gates.

The Covid rate per 100,000 people in Monmouthshire needs to drop to less than 150 for crowd trials to be considered. Thankfully the vaccination programme currently underway can only help.

It means decisions about pricing of tickets and hospitality will have to be delayed until we have a clearer picture of what’s likely to happen and it’s also hard to know whether to book any race day entertainment. 

But it’s important for us to remember that compared to the huge challenges created by the pandemic across the globe, our situation could be far worse. At least racing is taking place which generates revenue for racecourses, owners, trainers and suppliers to the industry. It also gives thousands of people some live sport to watch on TV.  Racing behind closed doors is limited to attendees absolutely critical to the running of the fixture which means around 200 people. 

Our next meeting is this Wednesday 20th January with all the races live on Sky Sports Racing. 

While we race without spectators, we are offering some great value prices to name our races. There is a sizeable TV audience on Sky if you have a business looking for exposure for your product. If you would like to have a chat about the options, contact me at

For this week’s fixture, our sponsor has kindly agreed to name our races after our Clerk of the Course Libby O’Flaherty and the ground staff. They deserve this recognition for their commitment over Christmas and New Year to ensure the Coral Welsh Grand National meeting had the best chance of going ahead in the challenging weather conditions.

The viewing figures on ITV Racing for the Welsh Grand National were strong. 

The Opening Show averaged at 220,000 with a peak of 297,000. In the afternoon it was the sixth most watched non-terrestrial programme, with an average of 544,000 and a 5.7% audience share. Viewing peaked at 525,000 for the Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle and on average around 700,000 tuned in for the Coral Welsh Grand National, peaking at 745,000 and an audience share of 7%. 

This is clearly great promotion for Welsh sport.

Jockey Sean Bowen has established himself at the leading Welsh rider this season and last week rode his 51st winner of the campaign when Pennyforapound won at Bangor for trainer Rebecca Curtis.

Welsh Grand National winning jockey Adam Wedge had to sit out several weeks in the autumn due to injury and his victory on Secret Reprieve was his 32nd of the season. James Bowen is the next Welsh jockey is terms of winners with 18 on the board.

Finally, we are working on plans for a virtual Cheltenham Festival Preview Evening. Once further details are confirmed, I’ll update readers via this column, on our website and on social media.

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