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From The Dragon’s Mouth: Edition 14

Top of the list of things I thought I’d never say was, “Did you see the Ffos Las Derby winner?

Well, we might just be saying that after Arrest – who, it’s fair to say – smashed apart his rivals in the Chester Vase this week.

Whispers of Arrest’s ability were softly spoken of before he took the long trip over the Severn Bridge to West Wales.

But he’s now put down a serious marker for the Epsom Classic. Should he triumph, he won’t be the only horse to compete in Wales before gaining a classic with Golan winning his maiden at Chepstow before claiming the 2000 Guineas in the year 2001.

Ffos was the office once again this week with an eight race bonanza taking place on Tuesday.

At the last meeting I had to stand a horse for a pretty nerve-wrecking amount, but this time it was back to the more usual levels. In fact, “usual” would be unkind.

Bar one punter having a few £300 and £500 bets, my turnover and number of bets taken was extremely disappointing.

This is something that seems to be reflected in my conversations with my on-course colleagues, wherever they go recently.

Being a bookie, it pays to be an optimist and to look at the long-term picture.

However, I can’t help but fear there are going to be tough times ahead for racecourse attendance and those who rely on racecourse bookmaking for some time into the future.

The cost of living crisis seems to be biting a little harder lately, when it comes to sporting events.

I just hope that the powers that be start to appreciate that people don’t want to pay eye-watering fees to get into a race meeting.  Nor do they then want to pay ridiculous amounts for the often pretty poor (that’s being kind) food that is available.

In difficult economic circumstances, racecourses have to be mindful that people want value for money.

They will come and enjoy live sport if they feel the day offers drama and excitement, there is fun to be had, and they are not being squeezed for every penny they’ve got.

I have some sympathies with the racecourses, because they are feeling the pinch like everyone else, but they have to look at this from the viewpoint of the reality of the paying punter.

Anyway, onto things we can be positive about.

I’ll be at Bonvilston point-to-point again this weekend, and, despite a lack of runners at the last meeting, it was good to see some heavy bets and decent action.

Welsh racing keeps putting itself in the limelight, our jockeys are flying, and the trainers all seem to be in decent form.

The horse trained by Christian Williams that won at Ffos called, You Say Nothing  – which benefited from an incredible bit of skill from Jack Tudor to stay in the saddle after a horror mistake – is one I’ll definitely be backing next time out given soft ground conditions.

The major race of the weekend is perhaps the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock.

There’s a few horses vying for favourtism, but my guess is that Byker will have that honour at the off.

He’s trained by a man who gives us bookies nightmares – Charles Byrnes.

Byker just touched off in his last run at the Cheltenham Festival and he looks to be the bet of the weekend to me.

Pob lwc whatever you land on and I hope to see a few of you on track over the coming weeks.

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