The four harness racing clubs in Ceredigion have teamed up to form a new company – Ceredrotian – and with help from Ceredigion County Council have secured funding from the Rural Development Plan for Wales to develop the sport in the area. The Rural Development Plan is funded by the European Agriculture Fund for Rural development and Welsh Government.
While the four clubs who have formed Ceredrotian will continue to be individually responsible for arranging their own meetings, they will work together a co-ordinated approach to marketing the sport in the county and beyond. Part of the funding, which is worth £113,000 over two years with the four clubs contributing 25 per cent, is being used to employ a Marketing Executive to work in conjunction with Ceredigion Tourism Department.
The county’s fixture list includes two prestigious three-day meetings, at Aberystwyth and Tregaron, which attract thousands of people from all parts of the UK and contributes greatly to the local tourism economy. Ceredrotian now aims to increase race-day attendances even further by targeted marketing at caravan sites and holiday centres.
Huw Evans, Finance Director of Ceredrotian said:
“Many hotels and guest houses over a wide area are filled to capacity during the race meetings; restaurants and pubs do a roaring trade and practically every stable is taken up by visiting horses.
“We want to build on this success. Harness racing is a spectacular spectator sport and can be a wonderful day out for the whole family. Most people who see it for the first time are hooked, so we’re hoping to encourage as many visitors as possible to come to the races.
“We also feel there is real potential to develop participation in the sport amongst young people and we hope set up a training centre where newcomers would be given a real feel for harness racing by sitting with a qualified driver on a sulky behind a horse.”
Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes Alun Davies said:
“This is an excellent example of how RDP funding is helping to build strong local communities and supporting the rural economy in Wales. Sporting events like harness racing fixtures play an important role in bringing the local community together and contributing to the cultural identity of an area which in turn attracts tourists, so I am pleased to see such an innovative project receive this funding.“
Amongst other roles of the recently-appointed Marketing Executive will be to investigate the possibility of finding new venues, including one for an all-weather track; developing a website to promote the sport throughout Wales and introducing new sponsors and potential owners.