[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC News in video and audio
Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 July 2007, 05:56 GMT 06:56 UK
Racecourse launch at ex-mine site
Jonathan Davies
Former Wales rugby star Jonathan Davies was at the launch
A 20m project to build the first National Hunt Racecourse in the UK for 80 years has been officially launched in Carmarthenshire.

Construction of the racecourse on the site of a former open-cast mine at Trimsaran is already underway.

The first racing on the Ffos Las course will take place in 2009.

The project's second phase includes an equestrian centre which will be a training venue for competitors in the 2012 London Olympics.

The Ffos Las course will be the third in Wales, along with Chepstow and Bangor-on-Dee.

The course, with a grandstand for up to 1,000 spectators, is being built on the site of the 608-acre Ffos Las mine, which shut 10 years ago.

Unbelievable asset

Planning consent was first given by Carmarthenshire Council in 2003, but the application was extended and final approval was granted earlier this year.

The developers Walters Group describe the course as a massive regeneration project turning coal gust and slag into grass and sport.

David Thursfield, director of Ffos Las, said the development would provide an "unbelievable asset " both for tourism and employment in the area.

The course is expected to attract horse owners and punters from as far away as Ireland.

It will be Wales' equivalent of Aintree, the Liverpool racecourse, he said.

Aerial view of the Ffos Las site
Construction of the horse racing course has already begun

A hotel, pub and restaurant and up to 250 homes are also planned for the former coal mine site.

"There's going to be around 150 construction jobs and between 50 and 100 permanent jobs in the future," Mr Thursfield said.

"With the size of the site there is potential for a lot, lot more. It's going to be massive. The area's coming on in leaps and bounds."

Sixteen horse meetings a year have been scheduled for the course already by the British Horse Racing Board.

Once completed the course will be the first National Hunt Racecourse - with jumps - to be built in the UK for 80 years.

Among those present at the launch was former Wales and British Lions rugby player Jonathan Davies who once worked at the mine.

He said: "I stand here as a very, very proud Trimsaran boy.

"It's a fantastic incredible change, with all the development in the area.

"This racecourse will bring great prosperity to the area - the area deserves it and so do the people."

Another new flat horse racing course in Essex is due to open this year.

"The demand is most definitely there."

Council puts racecourse on track
22 Sep 06 |  South West Wales
Racing course wins approval
20 Nov 03 |  South West Wales
Betting scam retold in film
19 Nov 03 |  South West Wales
Racecourse 'ready by 2005'
16 Jul 03 |  South West Wales
Horse racing plan at former mine
09 Jun 03 |  South West Wales

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific