Ffos Las Racecourse

Trimsaran, Carmarthenshire, SA17 4DE - Map & Directions
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Ffos Las Racecourse
Ffos Las Racecourse (Hywel Williams / geograph.org.uk)

Ffos Las racecourse is a horse racing, equestrian sports and conference facility based near Carmarthen in southwest Wales. Built at the site of an open cast coal mine after operations there finished, Ffos Las is a very new course, with the first meeting not taking place until 2009. The track cost a total of £20 million to complete and takes up a total of 600 acres of space. Located in a natural amphitheatre, it was the first National Hunt course to be opened in over 80 years.

The grandstand at Ffos Las was installed as part of its creation, as well as a hotel, pub, restaurant and facilities for betting and technical activities. Developers of the course hope the site will have a full capacity of over 20,000 for future race meetings. In order to access the course, those travelling by car should follow the A40 to Carmarthen before taking the A1484 to Llanelli, where brown signs lead the way to the racecourse. The two closest stations to the track are Kidwelly and Pembrey and Burry Port, both less than five miles away, however the station at Llanelli offers a free courtesy bus service to the course. Alternatively, Carmarthen station is 12 miles away and has direct links to London Paddington.

Ticket Prices

Ffos Las is one of the best-priced courses in the country, with premier admission costing just £12. Under-16s are allowed free entry to the course if accompanied by a full paying adult and there is children’s entertainment provided regularly.

The Course

The course at Ffos Las is designed to stage both flat and National Hunt races, all of which are run left-handed around the oval shaped track. The surfaces have been built with state of the art underground drainage systems to allow racing in almost any condition, unless it is truly too dangerous for competition to take place. Very flat with no undulations of note and a width of 60 metres at every point on the main circuit, this Welsh track is very much a dream location for jockeys.

The flat course comes in at a distance of one and a half miles in circumference with two long straights connected by easy, long and gradual bends. There are two chutes at either end, one of which connects to the home straight to allow 5f and 6f sprint races to take place.

The second chute, on the opposite side, marks the start of races that are one and a half miles long. The National Hunt course consists of six hurdles – three per straight – and the even layout of the flights, plus the easy bends on the course means the track at Ffos Las favours horses who operate mainly on their pace. The well-spaced fences and gentle bends further add to the appeal Ffos Las has for jockeys and helps make the course a good starting point for inexperienced horses and riders.

Some Early Signs of Bias

Ffos Las was the first new jumps (though as said it hosts both flat and NH racing) track to be built in 80 years when it opened in 2009. It may, therefore, be a little soon to make any definitive statements regarding flat racing bias at Wales’ third course, especially as it doesn’t host a huge number of races.

There are, though, early indications that point to horses on the outside being slightly favoured on the straight sprint course. Interestingly, the bias is particularly pronounced when the going is on the quicker side too so it appears that turf on the outside may be a little slicker than the rest. Ffos Las’s sprint course is one that places a decent emphasis on speed judging by record times and typically those drawn high are clocking the better numbers.

For one mile starts, there’s simply been an insufficient amount of well-attended races to draw any solid conclusions. That said, from 25 races featuring eight or more runners that have been contested on good to soft, or worse, ground, only four winners were drawn low.

Ffos Las may be one of the best-draining racecourses in Britain but it’s situated in a particularly wet area and conditions can become quite testing. On such occasions, many jockeys prefer to race on the middle of the course where the ground tends to be better. This would go a long way in explaining the bias that has begun to emerge and you’d be wise to expect the trend to continue. It is certainly well worth being aware of.

Despite all our discussion about potential bias, it’s important to remember that Ffos Las remains a very fair track overall. Maybe not the fairest that the United Kingdom has to offer but it’s a smooth, honest course lacking any obvious quirks and with abundant room to overtake.

Due to the slickness of the track, prominent runners do have an advantage when the ground is fast but otherwise there’s little to be said about pace bias. It’s a wonderful destination for any galloping horse and a fine addition to the long list of racecourses in the UK.

Major Meetings at Ffos Las

Ffos Las Racecourse Being Built
Ffos Las Racecourse Being Built (Rose and Trev Clough / geograph.org.uk)

The year the course opened there were just nine meetings, the first of which was welcomed by a sell out crowd of 10,000 people. The first ever flat race at Ffos Las was the Jamie Yeates Memorial Maiden Stakes, which is a race dedicated to a 17-year-old aspiring jockey who tragically died the previous year.

The official opening ceremony took place two months after the first meeting, with 12,000 people in attendance. In future, organisers are hoping to introduce a ‘Celtic Festival’, which would take place around St. David’s Day and more ambitious plans could follow as the track looks to grow in stature.

Dining and Hospitality

Private hospitality at Ffos Las comes in three prices tiers and is available in four areas, all of which vary in size and facilities. The standard pricing ranges from £50 to £65 per person depending on the area, whilst the premium prices can go up to £80. The feature price is the most expensive and ranges from £45 to £100 per person depending on the meeting and food/drinks choices.


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