Setback for Welsh equestrian centre project

  • The planned equestrian centre and racecourse at Ffos Las in Carmarthenshire has hit funding problems, although the various groups involved in the site’s development are hopeful that it will open by 2006.

    It was hoped that national hunt racing would begin at the 600-acre site in 2005, but that date has now been put back owing to a lack of commitment from the public sector. Promoters are confident that the eventing facilities, which will cater for all levels up to advanced, will also be ready by 2007, while harness racing is expected to kick off some time in 2006.

    Frank Holmes, a senior partner in Gambit Corporate Finance, the group project-managing Ffos Las, explains: “Local government in Carmarthenshire and the Welsh Assembly are being tremendously supportive — the lack of commitment is from the public sector. The support is there — we just want to turn this into action.

    “We’re hoping to start work in April. Ffos Las will be the first dedicated equestrian training and sport centre in the UK, and the equestrian community has been very supportive.”

    That support stems largely from the shortage of equestrian facilities in west Wales. The location also appeals to Irish riders.

    Martyn Williams of the Welsh Equine Council says: “Equestrian facilities in Wales are fragmented and Ffos Las is a real chance to bring them together.”

    Paul Elliott of British Eventing adds: “People want more eventing in Wales. I have visited Ffos Las — it’s a blank canvas and the potential is immense. I was asked ‘where shall we put the soil? Where would you like to have the banks?’.”

    With only two Welsh tracks — Bangor and Chepstow — the British Horseracing Board is “very enthusiastic” about the development.

    However, even if funding can be secured, the opening date could yet be revised.

    “We get a lot of rain here,” adds Williams, “and we’re not sure how long it will take for the newly laid turf to meet requirements set down by governing bodies.”

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (16 December, ’04)

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