Fans at Exeter were treated to three different types of racing on Sunday (23 November), as not only were the traditional thoroughbreds running, but Dartmoor hill ponies and Clydesdales also took to the track.
More than 3,000 racegoers turned out to see the three varieties of equine take up the challenge on “Devon Day” at the racecourse.
Last year’s Clydesdale race was such a success that Exeter decided to bring back the heavy horses for a second race this year. And fans were not disappointed.
It was a race that closely echoed last year — with Tom Parker once again passing the post in front, this time with conditional jockey Keiron Edgar on board.
“It was really good fun,” said Keiron. “We were slowly away but he got into his stride and he won easily in the end.”
The other jockeys who climbed into the larger than usual saddles, included H&H blogger Nick Scholfield, Daryl Jacob, Aidan Coleman, James Best, Alice Mills and Lucy Gardner.
TV star Martin Clunes, who is a supporter of heavy horses, said it was “a very exciting race”.
“More racecourses should do this as it is great fun and really highlights the breed,” he added.
The Clydesdales are all owned by Tim Ancrum of Adventure Clydesdales.
Tim said the horses enjoyed their day out.
“It’s just wonderful to bring the boys here and let everyone see them,” he said.
“They are so versatile, steady and they keep on going. There was a wonderful crowd here to see them today and the cheering was incredible.”
And from large to little, six Dartmoor hill ponies went to post for the 6f race (pictured below), and it was Frolic who won with owner Rachael Watson.
“My plan was to stay close in the race and keep something in the tank for the finish,” said 20-year-old Rachael who farms with her parents near Poundsgate.
The ponies were part of the Hill Pony Display Team which showcases at events and and fairs.
Charlotte Faulker of the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association said: “This is the first time we’ve done this and they were brilliant. I am so proud of them all, and their riders who were all very excited about taking part in a race at Exeter racecourse.”
More than £1,500 was raised for the Devon Air Ambulance on the day.
Don’t miss Nick Scholfield’s blog later this week to hear how he enjoyed his heavy horse experience.
Photographs courtesy of Malcolm Snelgrove