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'National Stud' for Wales on the cards

A POWYS-based businessman and racehorse owner has unveiled ambitious plans to create a 'Welsh National Stud'.

Powys County Council has accepted a bid from James Potter, who with his wife Jean owns horses with Philip Hobbs and Richard Lee, to redevelop the site of Leighton Park, a Victorian model farm dating from 1848 near Powis Castle in Welshpool.

The council reportedly could not afford to spend £2 million on upgrading and developing the 200-acre site, which features seven Grade 1 or Grade 2 Listed buildings.

The Potters’ breeding stock numbers 20 racehorses – including Potter's Gale, a half-sister to Denman who produced the couple’s current standard-bearers Missis Potts and Mister Potter – who are based at Leighton Hall Stables near the site of Leighton Park.

Potter said: "We tendered an informal bid for the property and we were fortunate to have it accepted.

"It’s a win-win situation, really. Our long-term plan is for the stud to be up and running in 10 years' time. In five years' time we hope to have renovated the dwellings to the way they should be.

"The local community should benefit as we plan to create 30 jobs in the Welshpool area, and there are not many developments that would beas sympathetic to the original buildings."

Potter, who aims to work alongside the Welsh historic environment service Cadw and the Countryside Council for Wales in restoring Leighton Park, added that he plans eventually to stand four "good-quality" jumps stallions, and to offer boarding, foaling and sales preparation services.

If Potter's plans for the site are realised, it will be the largest stallion facility in Wales, leading to it being dubbed by local reporters as a Welsh National Stud, even though the venture is privately financed.

He is confident that there is demand for a stud facility in central Wales. "Racing is experiencing a downturn now, along with every other industry, but the wheel will turn," he said.

"The site is ideally situated from most places in England and Wales, and Ffos Las racecourse is not far.

"The stud is also easily accessible for Irish trainers coming over to campaign in Britain, and with the pound weak against the euro, it may become more attractive for British breeders to keep their mares at home to be covered."




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