Hot to trot in Tregaron; Harness racing a way of life and a highlight of rural calendar.
HARNESS racing is one of the most exciting of equine sports, and is extremely popular in parts of rural Wales, none more so than the Ceredigion area where the annual Trotting Festival is likened to horse racing's iconic Cheltenham Festival.
S4C will broadcast live coverage from the Tregaron Trotting Festival over the Bank Holiday weekend on Friday and Saturday, August 22 & 23.
RASUS It is Wales's biggest harness racing festival, and this year it celebrates two landmark anniversaries.
It's 30 years since the festival moved to Dolrychain fields near Pontrhydfendigaid. In the same year, the Welsh Classic race began, and it is now one of Britain's greatest harness races, with horses and drivers from Ireland, Scotland, northern England and Wales coming to Ceredigion to try and win the trophy.
The Welsh Classic will be the highlight of the live harness racing on Saturday August 23, while the Strata Florida Cup final will top the bill on Friday, 22 August.
But both programmes will be packed with other live races, highlights of the qualifying heats, items reviewing the harness racing season so far and plenty of entertaining interviews.
Ifan Jones Evans will present the feast of trotting races, with Wyn Gruffydd leading the commentary and Hywel Davies getting the latest tips from the bookies and insights from the drivers.
5pm, on red There will also be English commentary on the red button service or the audio selection option. Viewers can also compete for a PS500 prize in the Watch and Win contest. You can register on-line at s4c.co.uk/rasus Presenter Ifan Jones Evans lives within a few miles of the venue on the family farm at Ponthrydygroes and he can't wait for the racing to begin.
"It's one of the most important rural events of the year for people in Ceredigion, Wales and beyond," says Ifan, 29, a presenter on a variety of S4C programmes and a BBC Radio Cymru DJ.
"I don't believe people in the towns and cities always realise the importance of this event for people in rural Wales.
"Harness racing is more than just sport; it's a way of life."
"It's been a great season of trotting, but this is the highlight. It's amazing how it has grown, and it is now as big as Scotland's big festival at Musselburgh."
" Festival chairman Huw Evans leads the team responsible for the event but also keepskeen eye on his own horses in the races and how his children Rhys and Anwen are faring.
Huw Evans says, "When we moved to the Dolrychain site, I never imagined the festival would grow so big.
"Now there are over 350 horses competing over three days in 40 races and the event attracts 5,000 visitors. For harness racing, this festival is their Cheltenham, and attracts the best horses in the UK and Ireland."
ifan feast service RASUS TREGARON S4C, Friday, 5pm, English commentary available on red button
For Ifan Jones Evans (right) and thousands like him, trotting is almost a religion in parts of rural Wales |