Premier Racing In The South-West As Exeter Stars

News | 9th February 2024

Premier Racing arrives at Britain’s highest racecourse this weekend when Exeter holds its excellent Sunday card

Big Money Up For Grabs

More than £190,000 prizemoney is up for grabs in the impressive seven-race card. 

The meeting features two Listed prizes.  Grade 1 winner Apple Away, trained in Scotland by Lucinda Russell, is among the entries for the Listed Trustatrader Mares’ Chase. 

Exciting prospects from the top stables of Willie Mullins, Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson, Dan Skelton and Ben Pauling could all line up in the Listed Trustatrader Fully Vetted Tradespeople Novices’ Hurdle. 

There’s also a competitive Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle. The first four horses home will qualify for the final at next month’s Cheltenham Festival. 

The Veterans’ Chase is packed with old favourites like Chambard, De Rasher Counter, Two For Gold and Lord Du Mesnil. 

All the action will take place on the picturesque track that sits high above the cathedral city of Exeter on Haldon Hill. 

Looking out from the stands on to the stiff, right-handed course, you might think you were in the middle of nowhere. The horses make their way down the back straight running next to a heavily-wooded backdrop thick with trees, but the course is actually located just off the A38 Plymouth road. 

It was officially called Devon and Exeter until the early 1990s when the county name was dropped.  

Rich History

There has been racing in and around Exeter since the middle of the 17th Century. It was one of the courses created due to King Charles II’s love of racing. 

The racecourse also has an intriguing history. The last duel in Devon took place at the site.  

Peter Hennis, a doctor credited with helping suppress the Exeter cholera outbreak, had been accused of spreading gossip by judge Sir John Jeffcott. Dr Hennis was wounded and died a week later. 

These days the only pistols drawn are metaphorical and the racecourse has seen some dramatic shootouts on the turf over the years. 

Star Performers

The highlight of the season is the Haldon Gold Cup.  A 2m1f handicap chase, it has been won by some of the best and most-loved horses over the years. 

Champion Chasers Barnbrook Again, Viking Flagship and Flagship Uberalles were all successful in the prestigious contest. 

Three-times Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Best Mate is another name on the roll of honour.  

His Hen Knight-stablemate Edredon Bleu carried the same Aston Villa-inspired colours of Jim Lewis to victory on two occasions before going on to win the King George VI Chase. 

More recently, Cue Card lifted the prize. This year, his stablemate Elixir De Nutz gave Joe Tizzard and his jockey-nephew Freddie Gingell victory before going on to land the Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham. It was his teenage rider’s first Grade 1 success. 

It is very popular with trainers for their young horses, especially novice chasers, due to the ‘galloping’ nature of the two-mile round circuit. 

Some of the best jumps horses have graced Exeter, including Kauto Star and Desert Orchid. 

It has also hosted, without doubt, the slowest horses. In 2013 and 2014, a charity race was held for giant Clydesdale horses to raise money for the Devon Air Ambulance, Dartmoor Ponies and Cancer Research UK. 

A proper jumps track extremely popular with Devon-residents and those from further afield, it is well worth a visit.  

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