Ffos Las – a focus for west Wales’ economic development

Peter Davies reflects on the opportunities for the west Wales economy presented by a new race course:

In recent times horse racing in Wales has been limited to the borderlands of Chepstow and Bangor on Dee and the sprinkling of well attended point to point meetings across rural Wales. This is all to change from June 18th with the opening of Ffos Las race course, built on a restored open cast anthracite mine outside Trimsaran.

The first new turf race course in the UK since in the 1920s, it will be a visible sign of the growing role of the horse racing industry to the rural economy of Wales. The growth in the number and successes of our Welsh horse race trainers has largely gone unnoticed. The likes of Peter Bowen, Evan Williams, Alison Thorpe, Tim Vaughan and Keith Goldsworthy now competing at the highest level in the sport, not only bringing more sporting success to Wales but providing a real employment stimulus to the local economy.

The passion and entrepreneurial leadership of Dai Walters has led the £20m investment in a new racecourse which can be the focal point for the new industry in the heartland of west Wales. The area has all the characteristics that has made the industry such an integral part of the economic growth of our close neighbours in Ireland. The high rainfall, the good growth of grass, the rolling landscape, the strong equine heritage, accessibility to large centres population and a thriving tourism industry.

Jon Williams, the race course manager at Ffos Las, expects our home based trainers to face stiff competition from across the Irish Sea and from the high profile training centres across the Severn Bridge. All of which brings opportunity for the west Wales economy, and ambitious plans future development on the race course to include hotel development. equestrian centres and a racing school.

The first race meeting will be a Ladies Night on June 18th, with the official grand opening on August 28th. For further information go to the Ffos Las race course website.

Peter Davies is Chair of the IWA's west Wales branch.

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