Racing Clydesdales set to grace Exeter racecourse once again
- Credit: Gary Day/Pinnacle
The earth will certainly move on the final Sunday of November when the Racing Clydesdales return to Exeter Racecourse for the annual Clydesdale race, which is being run in support of the Devon Air Ambulance, writes Lucy Johnson.
First run in 2013, and now in its sixth year, the event attracts crowds in their droves when the racecourse celebrates everything great about Devon.
While Clydesdales are not obviously associated with the county, these chaps live on Dartmoor where they convey visitors across the moorland. People come from miles to ride them, and once they’ve been on board, they come back time and again, smitten by Dartmoor’s wondrous landscape and these remarkable animals that beguile with their size and their agility.
Tim Ancrum and his partner Aileen Ware run Adventure Clydesdales from Brimpts in the heart of Dartmoor and from there they are doing their best to showcase an incredible breed. Ride them and you’ll be smitten too, as they show remarkable sure-footedness, clambering over granite boulders, wading through streams, climbing on tors and galloping.
For Tim, Clydesdales are an obsession and by bringing them to Exeter Racecourse every year he’s doing his own invaluable bit to promote a breed that is registered as vulnerable on the Rare Breeds list.
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“We want to promote their adaptability as a breed and their temperaments and Dartmoor is the premier place to showcase all their qualities,” said Tim.
Crossed with a thoroughbred, the Clydesdale is a popular sport horse, but this has led to its own problems. “If you keep breeding Clydesdale crosses indefinitely, the pure Clydesdales will die out,” he explained.
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With Solo, Salvo, Frankie Doodle, Siryl, and Tom Parker et al demonstrating there’s far more to these huge beasts than toiling the land, Tim and Aileen are flying a huge flag for a breed that is in danger of one day dying out while also helping to put Dartmoor on the map as an important visitor destination.
The gentle giants are in action at noon, with professional jockeys steering them down the home straight. There’s a mixture of free activities for children to enjoy in a huge heated marquee, and seven more races to savour.
Whatever the weather, Exeter is the place to be with outdoor action, and indoor entertainment to enjoy on a winter’s day.
Entry is free for everyone aged 17. Advanced Grandstand and Paddock tickets are from £15 and children aged 17 and under race free. A free bus service from Exeter St David and Exeter Bus and Coach Station is available (times available on the website), with the bus returning half an hour after the last race. For further information, please visit www.exeter-racecourse.co.uk