Shires emerged victorious in the inaugural battle of the heavy horses at Lingfield this weekend (6 June), winning over their fellow heavy horse breed, the Clydesdales.
And the dual Grand National winning jockey Leighton Aspell was back in the winner’s enclosure — this time aboard a 17.2hh Shire.
“It was harder than the National,” he joked.
The rider partnered Flash in Lingfield Park’s two-furlong Showerking Flying Feathers Heavy Horse Stakes, in which Shires went head-to-head with Clydesdales for the first time.
And the winning horse had earlier in the week been taken for a spin on the racecourse by H&H art editor Garry Ashton-Coulton.
Jacquie Gardiner, from the organisers of the race, Hurst Green Shires, said: “The Shires were definitely the winners.
“This race is about, yet again, proving the versatility of these great horses along with highlighting their endangerment as breeds.
“We were determined to show that these fantastic horses have a place in the 21st century. This year’s theme of Shire vs Clyde showcases the differences in these two types and introduced a bit of friendly rivalry between the breeds.”
Top National Hunt jockeys saddled up to try and win the coveted title in a race, which earned national recognition when it was launched in 2013.
Judges praised the innovation of the event as they awarded the Surrey racecourse overall winners of the events category at the annual Racecourse Association Showcase and Awards.
The shire horse race was first organised to raise awareness for the endangered breed, which is on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s “at risk” list because there are so few breeding mares.
The first race was won by Mark Grant while last year’s race was won by Mark Goldstein.
Andrew Perkins, executive director of Lingfield Park Resort, added: “I’m thrilled we are once again able to stage this fabulous race.
“The fact that there was even more of a competitive twist this year with the Shires v. the Clydesdales, has made it even more exciting.”