Woolacombe beach ban for top Devon racehorse trainer
Devon racehorse trainer Victor Dartnall has been banned from exercising his string of horses on a well known beach.
After being frozen-off at his Higher Shutscombe stables, near Barnstaple, on Tuesday, Mr Dartnall and his team made their way to the three-mile long sandy beach at Woolacombe to train the horses – something they have done since 1995 – but he was told by the beach's owners, Parkin Estates Ltd, that should he return to the beach again he would have a court injunction served against him.
Mr Dartnall said: "Woolacombe Bay is a huge beach with an enormous amount of space. It's three miles long and with a great depth to it too. In the winter, particularly during the week, it's virtually empty with just a handful of walkers and a few dogs.
"It's wonderful for the horses to go to the beach. They love it and it really freshens them up."
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On Tuesday Mr Dartnall reported that there were just 11 people and four dogs on the beach.
"The locals have always loved us going there too. They'll come up and take a real interest in the horses – we only go to the beach three or four times a year but when we do we'll often take our well-known National Hunt horses," added Mr Dartnall who noted that Giles Cross, last year's Grand National runner, is just one of the string to gallop across the sands.
Mr Dartnall, who employs 14 staff, added: "I feel this is quite a drastic action to take against a key local employer in North Devon trying, like the leaseholders, to make a living and continue employing local people during the ongoing downturn in the economic climate.
"But they clearly don't like horses and they don't want us there. There are other beaches we can go to in North Devon, but the beauty of Woolacombe is the amount of space, and the fact you can canter for long stretches without interfering with anyone else who might be walking there."
He added: "A lot of other racehorse trainers have access to beaches and it is an accepted part of the training routine. For us though they have been making it more and more difficult each year."
The WMN yesterday contacted the Parkin Estates but they did not return the calls.