Rider who helped keep ancient tradition alive hits out at offroaders who churned up course

A rider said he was "absolutely thrilled" to have helped preserve the tradition of England's oldest horse race.

Thursday, 15th March 2018, 5:09 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th March 2018, 5:10 pm
Steve Crawford rides his horse Firkin on the course, so the race can be run again next year

Stephen Crawford, walked, trotted and cantered his horse Firkin, round the four-mile course of Kiplingcotes Derby earlier today, after what would have been the 500th running of the race was cancelled, due to "dangerous" conditions.Mr Crawford was officially weighed in before setting out on the course, accompanied by John Thirsk, who won four times from 2008 to 2012.

The retired financial analyst said the track had been "grim" and Firkin had pulled a shoe off.

Article 15 of the race rules reads "should the race not be run then it shall cease. " All you need to know about the history of the race.Asked how he felt about today's event, he said: "It's mixed emotions. We had spent six months getting the horses fit to race, then to find out on Monday that it was cancelled.

Stephen Crawford was "thrilled to be part of keeping the history of the race alive"

"But I am absolutely thrilled to be part of keeping the history of the race alive."

Mr Crawford said one particular stretch of the course between Enthorpe Woods and the main A614 gathered rain as it was in the base of a bowl topographically.

The track had been affected by timber lorries legitimately going about their business - but also four-wheel drive offroaders.

"In a quiet part of East Yorkshire they do donuts, make ruts and destroy tracks - it's a real pain," he added.

Stephen Crawford was "thrilled to be part of keeping the history of the race alive"

Trustee Guy Stephenson said: "Offroaders are the biggest problem - they are cutting it up.

"They've been leading out timber and that doesn't help. It is too dangerous for horses to be riding and falling in those ruts."