THE welfare of horses who have retired from racing is a huge priority for the sport.

The newly-formed Horse Welfare Board has just launched a five-year strategy for the welfare of horses bred for racing. Improvements in the traceability of racehorses from birth is one of the many recommendations in the report.

At the moment there are several centres around the country that specialise in the rehoming of racehorses, including Greatwood near Marlborough in Wiltshire.

One of the horses they rehomed is former hurdler Urban Dancing who is now loved and cared for by Johnny and Caroline Ovenden in Mounton, near Chepstow.

Urban Dancing was sired by Nureyev, the disqualified winner of the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in 1980. Nureyev was the son of legendary sire Northern Dancer, who won the 1964 Kentucky Derby (as well as a host of other top class races).

It’s fair to say Urban Dancing’s blood line has lots of ability within it.

Although Urban Dancing didn’t reach the dizzy heights of his father and grand father, he was a fair racehorse himself, winning five races and finishing second to a top class horse called Direct Route on one occasion in 1996. He also ran in a race against the champion hurdler Make A Stand and was far from disgraced. He was trained by leading Northern handler Brian Ellison.

He’s now reached the ripe old age of 31 and is enjoying his retirement in the tranquil surroundings of the Monmouthshire countryside thanks to his kind and caring owners. Now that’s what I call a story with a happy ending!

One story that didn’t have a positive result was our Six Nations race meeting at Chepstow last Saturday, which was abandoned due to a waterlogged track.

The recent heavy rain has caused havoc across Wales and there are plenty of people far worse off than us, but it’s frustrating all the same when a sporting event is cancelled, particularly one that has taken many months to plan. More than 3,500 students from universities across South Wales and Bristol were due to attend.

The next meeting at Chepstow is Monday, 2nd March, when tickets are ‘two for one’ providing they are booked in advance (two for £20).

The next feature fixture is Grand National Party Race Day on Saturday, 4th April when we host seven races, with the Randox Health Aintree Grand National on the big screen and a live performance from ‘From The Jam’ after racing.

Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to our sales manager Charlotte Caple, who is leaving us this week to take up a new position at Bristol City football club. Charlotte has worked at the racecourse for more than eight years is very well known to our customers. She’s been an absolute star employee and colleague and I’d like to wish her all the very best.