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Track Talk With Phil Bell - 28 April


28 April 2021

Sean Bowen finished the jump season that ended on Saturday as the leading rider in Wales in terms of number of winners. He notched up 68 victories and won £540,000 in prize money. His link up with trainer Harry Fry among a host of others, including his father Peter, Evan Williams and Paul Nicholls, has proved fruitful.


Sean rode Metier to win his first three races for Harry Fry, notably the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown. He partnered Paul Nicholls’ unbeaten Monmiral in two of his four victories, the Grade 2 Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster and then a conditions race at Haydock.  He won four races on The Late Legend for Tom Weston and three on Harry Fry’s pair Momella and Ask Me Early.


Adam Wedge had 45 winners including Silver Streak in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and Secret Reprieve in the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow but his season was impacted by injury.


James Bowen had 35 winners with Jack Tudor on 27. Lorcan Williams and Richard Patrick both had 21 successes, Connor Brace 18 and Ben Jones 17. A special mention must go to Isabel Williams who won four races in a row on Memphis Bell.


Isabel’s Dad, Evan, was the leading Welsh trainer with 44 winners and £676,000 in prize money. As well as the successes of Silver Streak and Secret Reprieve, he sent out Coole Cody to win the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham.


Last Friday’s meeting at Chepstow was the last jump fixture until October and it proved to be a night to remember for Pontypool based permit holder Daniel Bourne. He had his first winner under rules when Nikki Steel took the handicap hurdle as odds of 33-1. It was an impressive training performance because the horse, formerly trained by Dr Richard Newland, had been off the track for 656 days.


Chepstow groundsman and fence builder Craig Jones is celebrating 40 years at the track. He started working at the course on April 22nd1981 as a builder’s labourer and one of his first tasks was to help plaster the Persian War Bar which many owners and trainers will remember. The course manager at the time was Roger Farrant and the clerk of the course was John Hughes.  


After seven years, Craig joined the ground staff and started building and repairing fences/hurdles with Alan Quinton. He worked alongside the late highly respected Head Groundsman Robert Mottram for many years. He’s also built jumps for a number of local trainers.


All three of Craig’s sons – Grant, Aaron and Curtis – have worked at the racecourse. He’s seen racing called off because of Foot and Mouth disease and more recently Covid19. 


The first Coral Welsh Grand National winner he saw was Peaty Sandy in 1981. Some of the best chasers in modern times have jumped over Craig’s fences including Carvill’s Hill, Bonanza Boy, Silver Birch, Cue Card and Native River. He’s been a great member of the team. 


The next meeting at Chepstow is this Friday 30th April – it’s the opening fixture of the flat season and is live on Sky Sports Racing.

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