Move over thoroughbreds, there’s a new breed of racehorse in town.
Well maybe not quite, but on Sunday (24 November) 5 Clydesdales showed off their speed as they thundered down the track in a special one-off race at Exeter racecourse.
National Hunt jockeys took to the saddle to ride the heavy horses as part of Exeter’s inaugural Devon Day.
And the Clydesdales showed their competitive side — reaching speeds of up to 20mph — before a photo finish was called for.
Tom Parker, ridden by Micheal Nolan, was declared the winner by a head from Siryl and Sam Twiston-Davies with Big Allan, while H&H blogger Nick Scholfield was a neck behind in 3rd.
Hadden Frost on Solo and Ian Popham on Ecco were the remaining contenders.
The horses are owned by Aileen Ware and Tim Ancrum from Adventure Clydesdales, based in Dartmoor.
“The breed is mostly known as a draught horse, so we want to show they make good riding horses too,” Tim told H&H.
“We’re not saying they should race the whole time, but 2 furlongs is well within their capabilities.”
He said he was “so proud” after the race.
Presenter and Clydesdale owner Martin Clunes — whose recent ITV documentary Heavy Horsepower featured the breed — presented the prizes to the winners.
“That was great,” he said. “There should be more heavy horse races as I think people would love them. I just get a gut reaction to heavy horses, and I’m not alone. It’s an emotional response. There’s something so honest about them.
“I’d love to bring them here and race them. I’d ride one myself.”
It was the first race of its kind for Clydesdales, following in the heavy hoofprints of the Shire horses, who raced at Lingfield earlier this year.
Could the breeds now go head-to-head? Watch this space…
* The race has raised £800 so far for the Devon Air Ambulance, with money coming from the bookies and owners buying shares.
For more information visit: www.exeter-racecourse.co.uk
* Don’t miss Nick Scholfield’s next blog — online later this week — to read about his ride in the race