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Track Talk With Phil Bell - 23 March


23 March 2021

It was fantastic to see Welsh jockey Lorcan Williams add another big race success to his CV when he was one of a handful of British riders to ride winners at the Cheltenham Festival last week.

The Pembrokeshire born jockey and his very willing partner Porlock Bay, trained by Will Biddick, took the St James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase. The winning margin over the Willie Mullins trained Billaway was a diminishing short head in a thrilling finish. 

Lorcan’s previous biggest victory was aboard Truckers Lodge in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter last year. His career is definitely heading in the right direction and being part of the Paul Nicholls team can only aid his cause.

Lorcan is from Stepaside near Saundersfoot and he started his riding career in Welsh pony racing and point to pointing. He’s been with the eleven times champion trainer since he was 16. 

The Cheltenham Festival wasn’t kind to some of our other representatives from Wales with the Rebecca Curtis trained Lisnagar Oscar falling in the Stayers’ Hurdle and Silver Streak, the 2018 Welsh Champion Hurdle winner, finishing sixth behind Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle.

Sceau Royal, winner of last year’s Potter Group Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las, was well in contention in the Queen Mother Champion Chase but he lost all chance after meeting interference on the home band. He can be considered unlucky not to have finished in the first three places.

The 2016 Coral Welsh Grand National winner, Native River, ran a brave race under Richard Johnson to finish fourth in the Gold Cup in conditions far from ideal – he would have appreciated some torrential downpours to make the ground more testing. 

It was good to see Peter Bowen on the scoresheet at Chepstow on Sunday when Landofsmiles won for his long-standing owners Jayne and Gwyn Brace. James Bowen was in the saddle.

It was Peter’s 14th winner of the season so way below the 2006/2007 season when he registered 72 victories. Peter told the Racing Post in terms of the future he is now focusing on buying foals rather than the more expensive horses in training. The first crop of foals is now coming through as four-year-olds. 

Another Welsh rider, Ben Jones, went on the long journey to Carlisle on Sunday for just one ride. The trip home would have gone a bit quicker after Galloping Bear defeated Senor Lombardy. 

We are waiting for the next update from the Welsh Government this Friday to see if there’s any progress in the return of spectators. We are hoping to have some crowd trials in May or June with owners perhaps attending a little sooner. 

The Kaiser Chiefs race night planned for May at Ffos Las has been moved to our Ladies Day fixture on Friday 27th August. There are seven races followed by a live performance from the band. Tickets are on sale and are refundable or transferable should this date not go ahead. 

Please see the Ffos Las website for more information or you can e-mail

Finally, the next meeting at Chepstow is this Thursday 25th March when the races are sponsored by Olivers Bookshop and live on Sky Sports Racing. First race is 12.30pm. 

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