Evening Racing at Ffos Las Racecourse
Today, we are pleased to hand the blog reins over to Cherry Stratford, PA to the directors. Cherry, it turns out, has previous experience handling reins of a more conventional kind.
On June 1st, I took my gambling luck in my hands and attended the evening race meeting at Ffos Las with nine friends.
Ffos Las is the newest National Hunt racecourse in the country and the first in West Wales since 1937. It is situated between Llanelli and Carmarthen, and is less than an hour’s drive from Bluestone.
The setting is magnificent, surrounded by rolling hills and countryside. It is almost impossible to believe that it is the former site of the largest open cast coalmine in Europe.
This new course held its first meeting on Thursday June 18th 2009 and its facilities are fantastic. The parade ring and winner’s enclosure are close to the large stand, which provides a great view of the racing and also houses numerous bars and betting outlets. In front of the winner’s enclosure is a beautiful sculpture called the ‘Spirit of the Race,’ created by local artist Chris Crane.
I have always had a connection with horse racing, having ridden in numerous point to points in my distant past, and it is great to have such a fantastic facility open close to Pembrokeshire. The day started with torrential rain but by the time we got to the course, in good time for a meal before the first race, the weather had improved and the course basked in the evening sun. The sight of these beautiful animals, at peak fitness, with gleaming coats creates an iconic scene.
The course is well supported by local owners and trainers but is also frequented by all the country’s top owners and trainers. One of Britain’s top jockeys, AP McCoy, was riding in all six races. AP is widely regarded as the finest jump jockey of all time and as he’s been Jump Jockey of the Year no less than 13 times in the past and won this year’s Grand National on Don’t Push It, who would dispute that? However, despite attaining two seconds, three thirds and a fourth, he did not add to his tally of triumphs this particular day.
The June 1st meeting was a ‘Boys Toys’ night, and various businesses had their merchandise on display; cars, boats, motorbikes and jacuzzis were all available to buy. I expect they were hoping someone would win a fortune and splash out. For my own part (and having limited myself to a bet of £2 a race), this was never going to happen – especially as I failed to select one winner all evening!
Despite my lack of success, I had a brilliant evening. If you have never been racing I can highly recommend it as a good day or evening out. There are regular meetings of jump and flat racing as well as occasional harness racing events. You can make the occasion as special as you like, there are always a number of ladies’ hats on display.