It’s not always the case in life that you get back even a fraction of what you put in when it comes to hard graft and investments, but in the case of Dai Walters, the driving force behind the creation of Ffos Las and the principal investor in the excellent new Welsh track, the victory of his own Oscar Whisky in the feature race of the year at the course must have tasted particularly sweet, especially when he wasn’t featured in betting tips, writes Elliot Slater.
When Walters came up with the plan to turn a former open cast mining site into a sparkling 21st century racecourse, many people thought that the self-made multi-millionaire was simply tilting at windmills, but his determination backed by substantial amounts of his win money has created a superb dual-purpose course that has received universal praise. How fitting then that at just the right moment he should come upon a horse of the class of Oscar Whiskey, who now looks a genuine contender for honours in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in mid-March.
Sent off at prohibitive odds, the Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old cruised around Ffos Las and soon put his rivals to the sword with an impressive authoritative success over Black Jack Blues, a victory that sufficiently impressed some bookmakers to have them cut his odds to as short as 10/1 for the Champion Hurdle itself. A winner of six of his seven career starts, Oscar Whiskey’s only reverse came at Cheltenham last season where he nevertheless ran very well indeed to be fourth behind Menorah in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, beaten just four lengths. Racing tips for today suggest that this result has not affected his cut odds.
Prior to Ffos Las there had been talk of a crack at the World Hurdle, but after this Welsh Champion Hurdle success it seems all but certain that Walters’ pride and joy will bid for the biggest two-mile hurdling prize of all on March 15.