Clydesdales train on Dartmoor ahead of Exeter ‘phenomenon’

  • Gentle giants of the equine world have been getting fit ready for this year’s Clydesdale race at Exeter racecourse.

    The annual fixture will take place on 20 November when the track celebrates Devon Day.

    Professional jockeys including Devon-born Nick Scholfield will pilot the heavy horses down the home straight in aid of the Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT).

    Clydesdale horses Tom Parker, Siryl, Big Allan, Frankie, Doodle, Midge, Salvo, Ecco and Solo have been in training for the race.

    The horses belong to Tim Ancrum and Aileen Ware of Adventure Clydesdales, which specialises in providing riding holidays across Dartmoor.

    Malcolm Snelgrove

    Credit: Malcolm Snelgrove

    “We’ve been having a lot of fun training the horses on Dartmoor, galloping them in closely set groups in readiness for the race,” said Mr Ancrum.

    “They find it all very exciting. This race is such a wonderful spectacle and so many people enjoy it.

    “The horses will race over two furlongs again, and we hope they will provide a thrill for racegoers.

    “The horses love it, and although they will never have the spark of a thoroughbred, they do get quite bouncy in anticipation of the race.”

    Nick is hoping he has better luck than last year when he was unplaced on Big Al.

    Credit: Malcolm Snelgrove

    Credit: Malcolm Snelgrove

    “It’s such great fun riding in the race,” he said. “They may not be the fastest, but just being on board is brilliant, and you can’t help but smile, all the way down the home straight.”

    Last year’s winner was James Best who rode Midge to victory.

    “It’s absolutely brilliant taking part in the race and raising money for the Devon Air Ambulance,” he said.

    “The build up before the race is brilliant, and there is so much camaraderie and good will.”

    Exeter general manager Daniel Thompson added: “The Clydesdale race has proved a real phenomenon since we first introduced the race three years ago and we are delighted that once again we will be supporting the DAAT.

    Credit: Malcolm Snelgrove

    Credit: Malcolm Snelgrove

    “We have the support of local bookmakers who will all be running a book so that people can bet, with every single penny donated to DAAT.

    “We’ve also offered people the chance to buy a Clydesdale for the day and experience ‘racehorse’ ownership — that is always a lot of fun.

    “The race is so popular and draws a huge amount of interest from people who might not normally go racing.

    “Seeing their white faces come charging down the home straight is an incredible sight to behold.”

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    The Clydesdale race comes under starters’ orders at 12.20pm.

    There are also seven conventional races on the card.

    For more information visit www.exeter-racecourse.co.uk

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