Easter Sunday 16th April - West Wales National
Ffos Las and Chepstow Racecourses lead the way in bumper Easter festival of racing.
Welsh courses form part of big Bank Holiday programme, featuring the West Wales National at Ffos Las and new £25,000 race at Chepstow - Wales Online. Thursday 13th April 2017.
Sunday’s jumps meeting at Ffos Las heralds the start of a Welsh Easter Racing Festival, with its highlight the £25,000 Persimmon Homes West Wales National Handicap Chase over three-and-a-half miles.
This will be its fourth running of the big race and it has been transferred from its original early February date in order to avoid the heavy going customary at that time of year, and the risk of abandonment.
The popular Carruthers won the inaugural race in 2013. He was bred by the late Lord Oaksey and trained by his son-in-law Mark Bradstock. Carruthers had won the 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup, and although his form tailed off after that he bounced back with a win at Ffos Las on Boxing Day 2012 and proved his liking for the track with a pillar-to-post victory in the West Wales National five weeks later.
His jockey Nico de Boinville, still inexperienced enough then to be claiming a seven-pound allowance, went on to partner Carruthers’ half-brother Coneygree to victory for the Bradstocks in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on 2015.
Venetia Williams is renowned for her heavy-ground performers and her Emperor’s Choice was made 9/2 favourite for the 2014 West Wales National. He relished the conditions, and after Bob Ford and others had helped to force the pace early on, he came through to lead between the last two fences and stayed on well to win by eight lengths.
Bob Ford tried again in 2015 and, though unfancied at 16/1, this time he was able to set his own steady pace. Appreciating being in front, he kept popping over the fences as one by one his toiling rivals pulled up in the testing going. Only one of the others completed the course.
The West Wales National of 2016 was abandoned due to waterlogging, but this weekend’s meeting looks set to take place on good going and the number and quality of entries indicate that a competitive race is assured. The first of seven races is expected to be at 1.55pm and there’ll also be lots of Easter-themed fun to keep younger racegoers entertained.
On Bank Holiday Monday, Chepstow hosts the NSPCC Family Race Day and have also lined up a wide range of free entertainment to complement the jumping action.
The highlight is a new £25,000 race, the Ken Sievewright Supporting NSPCC Wales Handicap Chase over two miles. The leading stables from Wales and the west have made entries. The most interesting is Nicky Henderson’s L’Ami Serge, who put in an excellent performance in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham when beaten by only a neck to a high-class rival.
Racing is scheduled to get under way at 2pm.