THERE are only three racecourses in Wales and I am lucky to oversee the management of two of them, so it may seem strange to hear that, until last Friday, I hadn’t visited the third Welsh track – Bangor-on-Dee.

I went in my capacity as a racehorse owner.

As I have mentioned previously in this column, I own a very small hair on the back of a nine-year-old chaser called Cillian's Well, trained near Bridgend by John Flint.

He’s been a star since we purchased him for a modest fee, winning four races and being placed in the first three on many other occasions. He’s been a little out of form recently and we hoped a trip to North Wales might rekindle his enthusiasm.

I can happily report, the horse performed better than his last couple of runs and although well beaten gave us enough encouragement to keep him going for a few more months. We were fortunate to have champion jockey Richard Johnson in the saddle and he gave us some invaluable advice after the race.

So, it appears Cillian’s Well enjoyed his trip to Bangor-on-Dee and I am pleased to say, so did I.

It was a fair drive from Chepstow (just under three hours) but once you arrive it’s well worth the journey and despite not having a Grandstand, the course more than compensates with its other facilities, particularly those for owners who are treated to a sit down two course complimentary meal. The viewing is excellent and there is a real genuine feel of rural charm about the place.

I can now say with authority, Wales has three excellent racecourses!

It also has plenty of very good racehorse trainers.

One of those is Robert Stephens who trains at Penhow. Last weekend he had an open day for his owners and it was great to see how far he has progressed since starting off with just three horses around six years ago. Prior to that he’d learnt his trade under two of the best trainers in the country, Sir Mark Prescott and William Haggas, both based in Newmarket.

Now working alongside his wife Rosie, Robert has established himself as a respected trainer who this winter will train 25 horses. He is also fortunate to have the services of Tom O’Brien, one of the best jump jockeys in the country. The pair met when both working for trainer Philip Hobbs and have remained good friends ever since.

Flat racing is in its final month at Chepstow with two more fixtures on Thursday, 12th and Tuesday, 17th September. We then start the winter game with the two-day Jump Season Opener on Friday, 11th and Saturday, 12th October.

And it won’t be long before it’s time for the Coral Welsh Grand National on Friday 27th December – and that’ll be another year ticked off.