Exeter Races all set for a Fabulous Friday meeting
PUBLISHED: 14:55 20 February 2018 | UPDATED: 14:55 20 February 2018
Devon’s Grand National takes place on Friday (February 23) when a prize fund of £25,000 will attract some of Britain’s best loved chasers alongside a supporting card tailor-made for racing’s rising stars, writes Lucy Johnson.
The winner of the Higos Insurance Services Handicap Chase will add £15,000 to the pot and it is no surprise to learn that it is ever popular among trainers, keen to give their chasers who might lack for a bit of speed, but who love galloping and jumping, a chance to win a prestigious prize.
With 21 fences to negotiate, and three miles six furlongs to complete, the race requires an abundance of stamina, but it is hugely popular, with competitive fields the order of the day.
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, the only horse to have won consecutive runnings of the race. Nigel Twiston-Davies has saddled the winner twice, with dual 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.
It’s not unusual for long-priced horses to spring a surprise and last year’s winner, Kingwell Theatre, won at 20-1. In 2013, The Clyda Rover was 22-1 and in 2011, Ammunition was the 16-1 winner.
It’s a race to try your luck in and go for the jockey wearing your favourite colours, or the horse with the best name!
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.
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