It’s a battle of the heavy horses — next week Clydesdales will be going head-to-head with Shire horses on the racetrack.
The breeds will be going up against each other in a two-furlong race on 6 June at Lingfield Park.
Shires have raced at the track before, and Clydesdales have run at Exeter, but it will be the first time the two breeds have competed at a racecourse.
“This race is about proving the versatility of these great horses along with highlighting their endangerment as breeds. We are 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 introduces a bit of friendly rivalry between the breeds,” said Jacquie Gardiner, from Hurst Green Shires, organisers of the race.
“The history of the Shire and Clydesdale is intertwined. The Clydesdale was developed for use from the Scottish borders and upwards and the Shire was for middle England but both became very popular as working horses for industry and agriculture.
“Their slightly different build made them suited to the different types of ground they were working with. With the onset of the Great War, huge numbers were requisitioned from around the country to serve in the army. This and the subsequent mechanisation of farming left the breeds at critical numbers in the 1970s. A breeding program and some very determined farmers and producers saved these beautiful animals for future generations but they remain endangered.”
Andrew Perkins, of Lingfield Park Resort added: “I’m thrilled we are once again able to stage this fabulous race.
“The fact that there is even more of a competitive twist this year with the Shires v. the Clydesdales, will make it even more exciting.’
As well as the heavy horse race there will be seven thoroughbred races on the all-weather and turf tracks throughout the day.
Julie Reilly, of sponsors Showerking, said: “We are very grateful to the owners of these animals for making this event possible — there is nothing more thrilling than watching those feathers fly down the track. There will be plenty of opportunity for the public to meet the contestants after the race and we’re looking forward to showing them off.”
Once again top National Hunt jockeys will be taking to the saddle to steer the heavy horses to victory.
But who has the faster turn of foot, the Shires or Clydesdales? Find out on 6 June…
Don’t miss H&H’s art editor Garry Ashton-Coulton giving a Shire a spin at Lingfield ahead of the race, visit: www.horseandhound.co.uk on Wednesday 3 June.