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Track Talk With Phil Bell - 5 May


05 May 2021

Wales is blessed with some extremely successful racehorse trainers and I went down to visit one of them, Rebecca Curtis, last week. She’s based in the picturesque surroundings of Newport in Pembrokeshire and her CV includes five Cheltenham Festival winners and a host of other big race performances.

She started riding when she was four, eventually progressing into show jumping and rode at international level for the Welsh junior team. Her first job in racing was just 10 miles down the road with Peter Bowen. She then went to America where she worked for trainers Richard Mandela and Dan Hendricks. 

On returning to Wales, Rebecca began training on her father’s dairy farm and trained her first winner in 2008 with Mango Catcher at Chepstow. Since then, she’s established herself as a trainer who can deliver on the biggest stages in racing.  

Teaforthree won the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2012 and then came agonisingly close to winning that year’s Coral Welsh Grand National with a half length defeat to Monbeg Dude. In April 2013, he came third in the Aintree Grand National. Few horses have performed so consistently in the premier jump races.   

At Fishers Cross, owned by JP McManus, won his first six races in Rebecca’s care including two Grade Ones in 2013, the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree. He was placed in the 2014 Stayers’ Hurdle and fourth in the same race in 2015. 

O’Faolain’s Boy won the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in 2014 and Irish Cavalier was another stable star winning at the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals as well as the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. Lisnagar Oscar became the stable’s fifth Cheltenham Festival winner when he won last year’s Stayers’ Hurdle at odds of 50-1.  Another significant high profile winner was Joe Farrell in the 2018 Coral Scottish Grand National. 

Rebecca says she has plans to buy a number of new horses this summer so it’ll be interesting to see their progress in the coming years. Hopefully there will be a few stars among them. 

Monmouthshire trainer Grace Harris has hit form with Faint Hope winning at Kempton on Monday under jockey Ben Jones as well as Profile Picture (50-1) and Mr Woody (20-1) both coming second at Uttoxeter on Saturday. Forest of Dean trainer John O’Shea was in the winners’ enclosure at Chepstow’s opening flat fixture of the year last Friday. Flip Mode was the horse in question and he was scoring for the first time in eight attempts.  

Congratulations to Team Bowen for Game Line’s victory in the Norfolk National at Fakenham on Tuesday. The Peter Bowen trained gelding has been a model of consistency and took the £10,000 first prize under James Bowen. 

Our next meeting at Chepstow is Tuesday 11th May. We are waiting for 100% confirmation that six owners per runner can attend. Please keep an eye on the Owners and Trainers page on our website and our social media feeds. There is still no news from the Welsh Government about the return of spectators and we are expecting a further update after this Thursday’s election. 

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