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A Q&A with Dai Jones, Head Groundsman at Ffos Las

A Q&A with Dai Jones, Head Groundsman at Ffos Las

 

What do you love about Ffos Las Racecourse?
It’s great to have a racecourse that serves the racing community in both South and West Wales so well, and great to see so many people from the area supporting it, many who would not have gone racing if it wasn’t for a local track.

What path did you take to become Head Groundsman? Did you always know that’s what you wanted to do?
I grew up in a farming community where home was a mixed dairy farm of 160 acres, Nr Llandysul, where a Rural way of life and country sports played a major role in my early upbringing through Pony club days, Hunting and on to racing, which I’m glad to say has continued to this day. Though work took me away from the great outdoors for some years, I’m fortunate to have found a route back to where I enjoy most, working outside and in an industry that I have made so many good friends and enjoyed so many good days along the way.

What made you want to go into this career?
Though its long hours, it does not feel like a job, but a way of life, that you can’t help but love. When growing up on the family farm, I loved spending time out on the land and learning how best to look after it. It seems that it has come full circle, where I’m learning again the best practices that will enable myself and the ground staff team to ensure Ffos Las has one of the best racing surfaces in the country.
When ARC bought Ffos Las, it opened the door for me to get back into the racing community. Firstly, as Estate Manager and Head Groundsman, where I must thank my predecessor Arwyn Morgan who had been at Ffos Las from day one and knew everything about the place. He has readily passed his knowledge, experiences and excellent ground staff team on, who have made sure I haven’t messed anything up and take great pride to ensure Ffos Las is in great condition for each meeting. Now after a short settling in period, It’s on to train to become a Clerk of the course.

You are currently a trainee Clerk of the Course, is that the long-term goal? Why?
They say timing is everything, I left Connollys Red Mills horse feeds after 12 years and I soon realised that working within the equine industry is like a ‘drug’ and craved for it more and more. Luckily for me, the position at Ffos Las came at a time where I was looking to get back into racing in some capacity, and with Ffos Las being so close to home it was an opportunity too good to miss. I’m glad to say that it has worked out extremely well and I’m fully enjoying the learning curve of being the other side of the fence, from being owner/trainer/rider to now having the responsibility of organising and producing good ground and facilities to race on. Again, I’m learning from good people with years of experience in the industry, such as Tim Long and Charli Moore and look forward to finishing my training and being a fully-fledged Clerk, that will hopefully see me here in Ffos Las for many years.
Long-term myself and all of the team at Ffos Las and indeed all at ARC racing, want to build Ffos Las up to be one of the best racing venues in the country, that produces a good safe racing surface and frame good competitive races to encourage the best horses, trainers and jockeys down to our little haven in West Wales, so all local racing enthusiasts can enjoy.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?
I had a great time when myself and my wife Emma, along with four of our best friends went to Prague and took in the famous Pardubice race. I would encourage anybody interested in racing to experience this race.

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