Exeter Racecourse all set for the Devon National this Friday

PUBLISHED: 12:26 18 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:26 18 February 2020

Action from Exeter races. Picture: EXETER RACECOURSE

Action from Exeter races. Picture: EXETER RACECOURSE


With the weather wreaking havoc for Exeter Racecourse’s fixture list, its all systems go for this Friday’s meeting which features the prestigious Be Wiser Insurance Services Devon National, writes Lucy Johnson.

The racecourse was pummeled by Storm Ciara and then Storm Dennis, resulting in the loss of three fixtures this year already.

General manager Jack Parkinson is hoping crowds turn out to enjoy a hugely competitive card on the last day of the half term.

He said: "It's been tough this year with the loss of one of our January fixtures, and then our February meeting which we tried to reschedule a week later and then succumbed to another storm.

"We've had terrific entries for this Friday's card, with a really great day in prospect and we're looking forward to getting going again."

Among the entries in the Be Wiser Devon National is Dawson City who has won the last two renewals of the race and is trained at Ottery St Mary by Polly Gundry who said: "Its always great to win on Haldon Hill as Exeter is very dear to me. I've been involved as a director there since 2010, and it's also a very fair track with excellent racing."

Races with the moniker 'national' are run the length and breadth of the country and are immensely popular with owners and trainers alike because they are run over long distances, giving horses like Dawson City the chance to win a big prize.

Polly explained: "What Dawson City hasn't got is a lot of speed, but he has plenty of staying power, so he comes into his own after they've run about three and a quarter miles. Nationals are great for horses who love to race, but aren't very quick!"

The prize for the winner is more than £15,000 and it is no surprise to learn that it is ever popular among trainers, keen to give their chasers that might lack for a bit of speed the chance to win a decent pot of money. At entries stage there were 28 horses entered, testament to its popularity.

Since 1998, the race has taken place just as the early signs of spring begin to emerge and Vince Slattery was on board that first ever winner with Workingforpeanuts coming home a distance in front of his seven rivals. Joe Tizzard has won three Devon Nationals and Sir Anthony McCoy has won it twice, on Samlee for Philip Hobbs in 2000, and Teeming Rain for Jonjo O'Neill in 2009. Nigel Twiston-Davies has saddled the winner twice, with duel Grand National-winning jockey Carl Llewellyn winning on board Spanish Main in 2003, and Paddy Brennan on Ammunition in 2011. The reigning champion jockey Richard Johnson was the victor in 2008 aboard Obaki De Grissay.

Long-priced horses can spring a surprising with The Clyda Rover winning at 22-1 in 2013 and Ammunition the winner at 16-1 in 2011. Local horses often land the spoils too, with Flying Award, trained by Sue Gardner near Exeter, winning in 2014, and Jeremy Scott's Clash Duff, who is trained on Exmoor, the victor in 2012 ridden by racecourse ambassador Nick Scholfield, and of course Dawson's City winning in 2018 and 2019.

More details can be found at www.exeter-racecourse.co.uk

Devon Grand National Previous Winners

2019 Dawson City 6-1 Polly Gundry/Tom Bellamy

2018 Dawson City 8-1 Polly Gundry/Andrew Thornton

2017 Kingswell Theatre 20-1 Michael Scudamore/Ben Poste

2016 Fourovakind 9-2JF Harry Whittington/Gavin Sheehan

2015 Catching On 11-2 Jonjo O'Neill/Wayne Hutchinson

2014 Flying Award 9-2 Sue Gardner/Lucy Gardner

2013 The Clyda Rover 22-1 Rover Helen Nelmes/Paul Maloney

2012 Clash Duff 7-1 Jeremy Scott/Nick Scholfield

2011 Ammunition 16-1 Nigel Twiston-Davies/Paddy Brennan 16-1

2010 Teeming Rain 16-1 Jonjo O'Neill/Richie McLernon

2009 Teeming Rain 20-1 Jonjo O'Neill/AP McCoy

2008 Obaki De Grissay 7-1 Henry Daly/Richard Johnson

2007 abandoned

2006 Earls Kitchen 9-1 Colin Tizzard/Joe Tizzard

2005 Toulouse Lautrec 9-1 Tom George/Jason Maguire

2004 Twisted Logic 10-1 RN Alner/Robert Walford

2003 Spanish Main 10-1 Nigel Twiston-Davies/Carl LLewellyn

2002 Mister One 10-1 Colin Tizzard/Joe Tizzard

2001 abandoned

2000 Samlee 11-1 Philip Hobbs/AP McCoy

1999 Gigi Beach 10-1 Paul Nicholls/Joe Tizzard

1998 Workingforpeanuts 4-1 CA Smith/Vince Slattery

About Exeter Racecourse: Exeter Racecourse is part of The Jockey Club, which has been at the heart of British racing for more than 260 years. Today the largest commercial group in the sport, The Jockey Club runs the largest racecourse group in the UK by turnover (2012: £142.1m), courses (15) including those at Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom Downs and Newmarket, attendances (2012: 1.8m), total prize money (2012: £35.3m), contribution to prize money (2012: £16.5m) and quality racing (Group and Graded races); more than 3,000 acres of world-class training grounds in Newmarket and Lambourn; The National Stud breeding enterprise and education provider; and the charity for racing's people in need, Racing Welfare. Governed by Royal Charter, every penny The Jockey Club makes it puts back into British racing. More information is available at www.thejockeyclub.co.uk.

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