FFOS LAS general manager Simon Rowlands has spoken about the financial challenges being faced by the Carmarthenshire racecourse this winter, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Adverse weather conditions have also resulted in fixtures being cancelled, and with revenue streams already severely impacted through lockdown, he admits it has been a testing time.

“We lost our third successive fixture when last Friday’s meeting was abandoned due to extensive waterlogging, having had an incredible 111mm of rain in the five days prior to the day,” he said.

“These situations are no massive surprise in the heart of the winter, but on top of the Covid pandemic, it is making life as a racecourse general manager in Carmarthenshire frustrating to say the least.

“Our next meeting is on Thursday, February 4, so I’m hoping for better luck with the elements, and there’s also racing at our sister course at Chepstow on Friday, February 5.”

Rowlands, commenting in his latest update for the Ffos Las website, said that he was pleased to see that a £17.7m funding package to help spectator sports affected by the pandemic had been announced by the Welsh Government.

“It has been designed to provide immediate financial support for spectator sports through the remainder of the winter period. The three racecourses in Wales will share £1.2m,” he said.

“Our revenue streams from ticket sales, hospitality, catering, sponsorship and non-racing events, such as conferences, wedding receptions and outdoor activities have been severely impacted, so this support is hugely welcomed.”

Horse racing fixtures are taking place behind closed doors in Wales, with stringent safety measures in place, and are limited to attendees absolutely critical to the running of the fixture.

Rowlands added: “At this stage, it’s difficult to guess when spectators might return to racecourses.

“There is another meeting between elite sports in Wales and the Welsh Government in early March.

“The Cheltenham Festival takes place the same month, and it is hard to imagine anyone other than the participants, and possibly the owners, in attendance.

“Our planning for later this year continues, and I’ve been thinking of various ideas to develop once spectators are allowed to return.

“One of them is how to embrace the history of horse racing in West Wales – and how to play our part in ensuring it is never forgotten.”