November 10, 2015 - The racing Clydesdales return to Exeter racecourse on Devon Day which takes place on Sunday, November 22 when several gentle giants will be racing down the home straight with professional jockeys on board.
The race, which comes under starters’ orders at 12.20pm, has become a highlight on Exeter’s calendar, attracting hundreds of extra racegoers who may not normally go racing, as well as worldwide interest in the media. Their huge white faces and flying feathers capture imaginations as they gallop down Exeter’s home straight drawing cheers of admiration from the crowds and evoking a sense of nostalgia for these gentle giants who have for centuries toiled the land.
The horses belong to Tim Ancrum and Aileen Ware of Adventure Clydesdales, which specialises in providing riding holidays across Dartmoor. Tim said: “The race is wonderful and so many people enjoy it. We’ll be racing them over two furlongs again, and we hope they will provide a thrill for racegoers. They won't do what a racehorse will do, but then a racehorse won't do what a Clydesdale can do.
"I would say that they will do 20-25 mph when they are really going. It's like a Range Rover sport, compared to a Ferrari."
The race is held as a fundraiser for the Devon Air Ambulance Trust that will be on the course raising funds and awareness. Caroline Creer, Fundraising Director at Devon Air Ambulance Trust, said: “We would like to extend our gratitude to Adventure Clydesdales and Exeter Racecourse for supporting us with this event again this year. Their contributions to the Trust help us to save lives, and we are grateful for their continued support. We wish everyone the best of luck at this fantastic day out.”
Devon-born former jockey-turned-showjumper Hadden Frost was air lifted off the course in February this year when he suffered a nasty fall. He said: “I can’t thank the Devon Air Ambulance enough. It would scare me if I totted up how much I owe them. You don’t have to go very far to find someone who has needed them, and even if you are a happy hacker you never know when you might need them. When they arrive you feel you are in safe hands. They’re just brilliant.”
Among the horses lining up are Tom Parker, who won in both 2013 and 2014, Big Allan and Solo. General manager Daniel Thompson said: “The Clydesdale race has proved a real phenomenon since we first introduced the race two years ago and we are delighted that once again we will be supporting the Devon Air Ambulance Trust.
“We have the support of local bookmakers Dick Oliver, Dave Phillips and Jack Bevan 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 site to behold.”
Actor Martin Clunes, who is best known for his part in Doc Martin, owns two Clydesdales, and has supported the race since its inception. He said: "Clydesdales racing at Exeter down the home straight make a wonderful spectacle and one that draws in crowds from far and wide. It shows off these wonderful animals versatility and we are delighted to show our support."
The seven race card is sponsored by Higos Insurance Services and the first race is off at 1pm. Devon residents are eligible for a £5 discount of they pre-book their tickets. A free bus service from Exeter St David (11.20am) and Exeter Bus and Coach Station (11.35am) is available, with the bus returning half an hour after the last race. For further information please visit www.exeter-racecourse.co.uk