Remembering one of the three ‘Captain’s in horse racing- Sandy Carlos Clarke- and his wife Barbara

One of the three ‘Captains’ in horse racing, famous in their days, was Captain Sandy Carlos Clarke, who trained from Hill House Stables in Lambourn. The other two were, of course, Captain Ryan Price and Captain Neville Crump.

Sandy was a truly colourful character, whose education at Eton had been paid for by his mother’s winnings at the poker table. He died in May 2003, aged 87, having tried a variety of careers, ranging from professional boxer, dog kennel assistant and cowboy, before serving in the Commandos in the Second World War and finally becoming a racehorse trainer.

Capt Sandy Carlos Clarke

Capt Sandy Carlos Clarke

At the age of 13 he was chosen as the best boy rider at the Horse of the Year show at Olympia, and, as children, he and his sister Diana hunted with the Quorn. Amongst his hunting friends was the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, who, as a boy, gave him a diamond pin. The sale of that pin years later gave Sandy enough money to buy land in Lambourn and embark on a training career at Hill House Stables  with 56 boxes mainly for flat horses.

In between he had a spell as a boxer in France, where he was said to have had 19 fights and lost them all. A post as vegetable chef at the Savoy followed on his return. When his shift finished, he would change his clothes and dine in the restaurant- the job lasted only a few weeks.

His parents sent him to university in Montreal in a bid to improve his education, but he failed all subjects and  spent much of his time as a ranch hand, disembarking from the boat on his return dressed as a cowboy and with a saddle slung over his shoulder.

He later joined the Commandos and took part in the Normandy landings with No 4 Commando. He was responsible clearing Germans from fortified island of Walcheren in a number of successful raids on the last months of the war. He was invalided out of the army  in 1946, having been injured  for second time in the Low Countries.

His sister Diana had married racehorse trainer Fulke Walwyn at Lambourn, who gave him a job as assistant trainer. When he married local farmer’s daughter Barbara Bracey , he set up his own racing yard at Hill House buying the land from the sale of the tie pin plus £50.

Captain Sandy Carlos Clarke's Allex winner of thee Northern Handicap at Lindoln with Erid Eldin on board

Captain Sandy Carlos Clarke’s Allez, after winning  the Northern Handicap at Lincoln with Erid Eldin on board

He loved horses but never bet on them. His yard was mainly Flat, though he had some jumps runners such as grey Good Gift, which won a number of races.  He won the Ascot Stakes with  25-1 shot Wildnor in 1955. Allez ,owned by Nick Eliot, 9th Earl of St Germain, was one of his other good Flat winners, providing him with numerous wins with Eric Eldin  on board. Others included Travelling Light, Mack The Knife, La Villette, Rose Cut.

Darkie Deacon and Mack The Knife (right) and Allez on the left

Darkie Deacon and Mack The Knife (right) and Allez on the left

My husband was based with Sandy from the age of 14-18, when his weight finally overtook him and he had to leave racing. He had several rides over jumps and looked after Allez. and others.

Tom riding Mack The Knife

Tom riding Mack The Knife

We used to visit Sandy and Barbara, and after Sandy died, we heard from Barbara every Christmas with news and gossip from Lambourn. We took her out for lunch in summertimes.

Sadly three Christmases ago there was no card or letter and after making inquiries in Lambourn, we learned she had died two months after our last visit. Then she had been as smartly dressed as ever, witty and keen-minded and full of news about Lambourn and its training establishments- a great lunch companion.

Barbara Carlos Clarke

Barbara Carlos Clarke

End of an era.  But this Christmas I trawled the internet and found a recording of Sandy’s biggest training win with Wildnor

This is for you, Sandy and Barbara, with love.

World Horse Welfare backed by almost 44,000 in campaign for CCTV in slaughterhouses

World Horse Welfare can look back on a year in which it made big strides forward in different campaigns, as well as continuing to do its best to rehome horses at risk.

One outstanding success was the campaign aiming for mandatory CCTV inside Britain’s slaughterhouses, which received the backing of 43,737 members of the public.

William and Pippa Funnell handing over the petition Photo courtesy of Woorld Horse Welfare

William and Pippa Funnell handing over the petition
Photo courtesy of World Horse Welfare

The introduction and monitoring of CCTV at all slaughterhouses licenced to take horses in the UK would help the FSA (Food Standards Agency) in their duty of enforcement so that cruelty inside a UK abattoir this year can be prevented from happening again.

The popular petition was signed by the likes of BBC Formula One presenter, Lee Mckenzie; British Olympic equestrian sportswoman, Mary King and three-day eventing elite, Pippa Funnell and her show jumping husband, William. The Funnells handed the petition over to Defra at the end of November.

World Horse Welfare had been appalled at one slaughterhouse by the catalogue of breaches of laws meant to protect horses at slaughter – horses being beaten, dispatched in view of other horses, and other inhumane treatment.

World Horse Welfare called for suspension of all activities at this abattoir until new systems ensuring humane treatment were put in place. The abattoir was subsequently ordered to close temporarily, not on welfare grounds, but because the FSA said that the establishment did not meet all the infrastructure requirements which permit the safe production of meat.

Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare, Roly Owers said: “The public and horse owners need to have confidence that equine slaughter is carried out humanely in Britain. World Horse Welfare believes that complusory CCTV is a vital aid to help protect horses and while we believe there is a role for humane slaughter in Britain, inhumane slaughter has no place and is indeed illegal.”

He said World Horse Welfare hopes to make a strong impact on Defra with the number of signagtures collected from compassionate supporters and Defra could not ignore the importance of the call for action or fail to recognise the importance of public confidence in humane slaughter- or food safety.

The charity had pledged to continue to press the case for CCTV with Defra which is reluctant to compell slaughterhouses on cost grounds. It does not accept this argument and says CCTV can be installed at relatively low expense and would bring with it cost and other benefits.

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Plumpton College horse competitions planned for New Year

Plumpton College in East Sussex has announced a Winter Show Series for 2014, starting with a Show Jumping Show on Saturday January 11, followed by CombinedTraining on Saturday February 8 and a Showing Show on Saturday March 15.

Winners at a previous Plumpton show Photo: Plumpton College

Winners at a previous Plumpton show
Photo: Plumpton College

In show jumping on January 11, the first class starts at 9am prompt with Cross Poles for genuine first time competitors, who may be led or assisted. Class 2 for Restricted  Novice and Novice 2 for combinations not having won a show jumping competition. Class 3- Leap frog Novice, is open to all and Class 4, Tom and Jerry Scurry over 2’3″ and 2’6″ and one round against the clock, open to all. Class 5- Time to Take Off, is Intermediate 2’6-2’9, open to all. Class 6 is New Year’s Open, 2’9-3′ Open to all. Fees for all classes are £6.

Combined Training on Saturday February 8 includes Introductory B Walk and Trot (Open to all never placed first or second in any dressage competition).Preliminary 04 (2002)  and 2’3″ jumping course. Class 3 Novice 24 (2010) 2’9″ jumping course. £15 entry for all classes.

An Indoor Showing Show will be held on Saturday March 15 2014 in two arenas. Arena A is indoor school with outside warm-up and Rosettes 1-6 in all classes. These are In-Hand Youngstock, In Hand Condition and Turnout, Lead Rein, Riding Club Horse / Pony Club Pony, Ridden Hunter, Ridden Cob, Ridden Veteran, Ridden Coloured Horse or Pony.

Arena B—Indoor School (Outside warm-up)- Working Hunter Horses under 15hh only – Jumps approx 2ft-2ft3’ Horses over 15.1hh – Jumps approx 2ft6’
Showing: Ridden Mountain & Moorland small breeds; Ridden Mountain & Moorland large breeds. In-hand Classes:Coloured Horse & Pony; Young handlers; Cute and Cuddliest; Prettiest mare; Handsomest gelding.

These events will all be held at the college in Ditchling Road, near Lewes in East Sussex BN7 3AE and full details can be obtained on 01273 892107.


World Equestrian Games eventing 2014 to be held across the channel in Normandy this August

The showjumping  and dressage phases of eventing at the World Equestrian Games 2014 will be held at Haras du Pin, Normandy, in 2014 offering British enthusiasts the opportunity to step across the channel to France to watch their favourite horses and riders perform.
Haras du Pin, site for dressage and cross-country sections of 2014 World Equesgtrian Games

Haras du Pin, site for dressage and cross-country sections of 2014 World Equesgtrian Games

On August  28 2014, an anticipated eighty riders and horses in the eventing dressage will compete at the Le Pin National Stud, in Orne, Normandy to be followed the day after by the cross-country phase.

Le Pin National Stud, located in the Orne area of Normandy, has long been known for its fine cross-country track. Winding beneath the castle and through the Hautbois park that surrounds it, the course has already hosted a 3* competition every August.

The FEI CIC 3* World Cup event, Le Grand Complet, which attracts approximately 20,000 spectators, has been held there for the past three years and has grown in favour with the competitors.

The event is held on the grounds of the impressive National Stud, Haras du Pin whose main Chateau overlooks the cross country course. The course is undulating and the natural terrain will give led itself to an interesting design for the  2014 Cross Country element, where Pierre Michelet is likely to design a tough course.

He has caught the eye with tough courses at Saumur 3* and Pay 4* and was consultant course designer for London 2012, so has plenty of experience to his credit and organisers also predict that the sound system at Haras du Pin will be excellent, enabling it to be heard all over the course.

Work is already underway on the ground to ensure that the course will be well established and mature when the event takes place.

The showjumping section will take place on August 30 in Caen,  which is only an hour north of Haras du Pin.

Stadium at Caen

Dornano Stadium at Caen

That has been chosen because of its capacity and it will enable riders to be awarded their medals in main stadium which seats more than 20,000 spectators.

Excellent racing at Fontwell Park and double for Oliver Sherwood

Oliver Sherwood took top trainer honours with a treble at Fontwell Park`s Boxing Day fixture yesterday, where a good crowd was rewarded with superb racing.

Jockey Leighton Aspell is in fine form

Jockey Leighton Aspell is in fine form

He won the Red Casino handicap chase with Before All, with local in-form jockey Leighton Aspell in the saddle and the same combination followed up in the Mares Novice Hurdle with evens favourite Spirit Oscar. Thomas Garner was in the saddle for 8-1 shot Jeano de Toulouse’s win in the 32 Red Handicap Hurdle.

Although the going was heavy, there was still competitive racing and Fontwell Park put on a great family day out when racegoers enjoyed the sunshine. There were a couple of local winners to add extra interest, with Sullington trainer Richard Rowe sending out Alteranthela, ridden by  Colin Bolger, to win the handicap chase of the day.

Trainer Richard Rowe- stable is in good form

Trainer Richard Rowe- stable is in good form

And there was compensation for Gatwick trainer Kevin Tork, whose prolific runner Upton Mead finished a four-length second to Before All in the second race. His runner Zhukov,  now 11, had been pulled up last time at Fontwell Park , making his reappearance after a very long absence.

But this time he won the Ward-Thomas Master Removers Handicap Chase over two miles two furlongs by a well judged length with local claimer George Gorman in the saddle. This was a good win for the young rider, who has previously ridden a number of point to point winners for his mother, trainer Carolyn Gorman. He should go on to more successes.

The opening juvenile hurdle went to Neil King’s Vandross, ridden by Trevor Whelan, and the final condition jockeys race was won by Josh Hamer aboard Claire Dyson’s Piqeuno Diablo.



Well Refreshed is being aimed at the Welsh National and should be spot on

Well Refreshed, trained in West Sussex by in-form Gary Moore,  has the Coral Welsh National this Saturday, December 28, as his main target this season. He has all the right credentials, having won a Grade III at Haydock in February this year by ten lengths on heavy ground.

Joshua Moore with Well Refreshed when winning the Sussex National

Joshua Moore with Well Refreshed when winning the Sussex National Photo Jeannie Knight

The nine-year-old Nikos gelding, owned by Patrick Wilmott, did not get enought give in the ground on his latest Cheltenham run, with trainer’s son Joshua on board- Joshua has partnered the horse to all of his four wins over fences.

One of these was the Sussex National at Plumpton where he had a 28 lengths winning margin over the second-placed horse and claimed the victory in style.

He disappointed on his seasonal debut at Cheltenham in October where he fiinished 14 out of 16, but the ground was good on that occasion and he is also reported to have come on the the latest race.

His latest third in the London Marathon at Sandown should have put him spot on to tackle the Welsh National, where his preferred soft or heavy ground is usually the norm. Ante post prices opened at 10-1 to 12-1 on the horse for this race.


Counting down to the All Weather Championships finals

The countdown is on to the All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield Park Resort, which takes place on Good Friday April 18, when £1m prize money will be on offer.

Lingfield Park all-weather racing  Photo courtesy of ARC

Lingfield Park all-weather racing
Photo courtesy of ARC

It is a far cry from the early days of all-weather racing, more than 20 years ago, when prize money was notoriously poor. The first All-Weather fixture was staged at Lingfield Park on October 30 1989, following lengthy discussions about many racing fixtures being lost to bad weather, and the associated adverse financial impact on racing.

Two artificial tracks were created, the Equitrack at Lingfield Park and a Fibresand track at Southwell, opening within nine days of each other. Kempton Park was developed later in 2006 and remains the only right-handed All-Weather track.

Lingfield Park Resort is proud to be part of the new All-Weather Championships featuring six categories of races run across all of the Arena Racing Company All-Weather tracks Wolverhampton, Southwell and Lingfield Park, and also Kempton Park owned by The Jockey Club.

The season, which runs from October to April, is almost at the half-way point and will climax with the richest All-Weather raceday in Europe to take place on Finals Day at Lingfield Park on 18 April 2014 – with £1million in prize money on offer, this is a race meeting not to be missed.

The concept of the All Weather Championships has raised the profile of winter flat racing on these surfaces and the added prize money has encouraged top trainers to take part with better horses.

The current top ten jockeys in the championship table, which runs from October 26 until April 4 are:  Martin Harley, Adam Kirby, Luke Morris, Silvestre De Sousa, Graham Lee, Liam Jones, Sean Levey, Andtrea Atzeni, George Baker and Jim Crowley.

Meanwhile Catterick Racecourse is bidding to have all-weather surface at its North Yorkshire track. It wants to replace the turf Flat course with a floodlit artifical surface, but to keep the jumps course. Officials have been working on the project for two years, but fruition of the plans are still a long way off.



Van der Vleuten makes history at Olympia’s thrilling Longines World Cup qualifier

MAIKEL Van der Vleuten made history at the weekend at The London International Horse Show  at Olympia, when he matched his father Eric’s achievement in 2009 of winning the prestigious Longines FEI World Cup qualifier presented by H & M.

The packed house was treated to a thrilling 11-horse jump-off which built to the dream finish – the very last rider into the arena pulling off victory. Riding VDL Groep Sapphire B, Maikel beat Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jr on Polinska des Isles by the tiny margin of 5/100th of a second.

Britain’s Daniel Neilson, riding in Olympia’s international classes for the first time, produced an outstanding debut performance on Varo M to take third place- making him one to follow in the future.

Maikel Van Der Leuten (NED) riding VDL Groep Sapphire B to victory at Olympia Photo: Olympia Horse Show

Maikel Van Der Leuten (NED) riding VDL Groep Sapphire B to victory at Olympia
Photo: Olympia Horse Show

Penelope Leprevost (FRA) on Nice Stephanie and Lars Nieberg  (GER) on Leonie W also produced double clears to finish fourth and fifth.

Scott Brash (Hello Ursula Xll, sixth), Michael Whitaker (Viking, seventh) and Peter Charles (Murka’s Odie de Frevent, 10th) kept home hopes alive by making it into the jump-off but they all faulted.

An enthralled audience held its breath as Michael Whitaker made an ambitious switch-back turn to the fifth fence, giving him the fastest time of all, but his gallant horse Viking unfortunately had a penalty when hitting the upright black-and-white Longines FEI World Cup fence.

It was a first Longines FEI World Cup win for Maikel, the fifth Dutch winner since 1979, and he and Eric are the first father-son combination to win this class at Olympia, described by the FEI’s World Cup Director John Roche as “one of the jewels in our crown”.

This Longines FEI World Cup event achieved the highest calibre of performances, as is fitting for an event of this stature in world show jumping, and mesmerised the capacity crowd.


A new Palomino pony is helping to heal Annabelle’s broken heart

HUNDREDS of people responded with sadness when a much-loved West Sussex pony had to be put down in October after being stolen by heartless thieves.

But now a lovely palomino pony is helping to heal the broken heart of Annabelle Harvey-Mason ( 10) who had been so devastated by the loss of her award-winning pony Oke. The tragic story of Oke, who had sustained a broken leg during the theft had tugged at heartstrings all over the country.

Annabelle with he new pony,     Photo by Robert Gee LRG Photography

Annabelle with her new pony, Griashall Gethin Photo by Robert Gee LRG Photography

This Christmas, tragedy has turned into a new beginning  for Annabelle of Aldingbourne, who had been inconsolable by the loss her her pony. The duo had been about to be presented with a Star of the Future award by Arundel Riding Club because of their outstanding partnership in competitions.

Six weeks ago, Annabelle was given Griashall Gethin,  a beautiful three-year-old palomino Welsh Section B, chosen for her in Wales by her mother Kerry’s good friend Lizzie Deacon.

Soon after he arrived, Annabelle took him to the South East Welsh Pony and Cob Association Show at Merrist Wood and they were second in both classes they entered- Best Three Year Old and Best Small Mountain and Moorland.

Her mother said: ” Since Annabelle has been backing him, the pair continue growing going from strength to strength, and each day amaze me more. It is as if Gethin knows he has an important job to do- to try and heal a broken heart. Their bond is growing with each new day it is lovely to see that special spark coming back into Annabelle.”

On Sunday December 15, Annabelle and Gethin entered the Manhood Riding Club Charity Show at Thorney Island, competing against riders which included  adults and other children. Annabelle was the highest placed child in each of her classes.

Annabelle and Gethin in the foreground waiting to be judged Photo by Robert Gee LRG Photography

Annabelle and Gethin in the foreground waiting to be judged
Photo by Robert Gee LRG Photography

The duo were placed third in the Best Solid Colour, third in the Best Novice Pony 12.2-14.2hh and third in the Best Novice Pony Classes. All were good strong classes of 17 entrants.

“We are very pleased with the results so far and it was lovely to see Annabelle and her eight-year-old sister Phoebe both out with their ponies again. The sisters are looking forward to riding together again over the winter months and enjoying our beach rides and wood rides as a family. With Gethin already showing such promise I think the pair will have a lot of fun for the 2014 showing season,” added Kerry.

Boxing Day action promises top class racing at Fontwell Park

Spend the festive period at Fontwell Park with friends and family with an afternoon of Boxing Day Racing. Along with seven races on the card, the King George VI at Kempton Park will also be shown on the large screen so racing fans can see the major action at that meeting too.

Exciting action promised at Fontwell Park's  Boxing Day meeting: Photo: JIm Simpson

Exciting action promised at Fontwell Park’s Boxing Day meeting: Photo: JIm Simpson

Plus, with a range of children’s entertainment, there will be plenty to do for all the family with fun fair rides, pets corner, face painters, kids club zone and more throughout the day.

Get closer to the action too for there is FREE parking in the centre of the course for this fixture only.

Paddock Enclosure tickets are available from £15 if booked in advanced and remember children under 18 go free when accompanied by an adult.

Go along and experience the excitement of jump racing with a range of food and bar outlets, betting facilities and fantastic hospitality options.

Save money in advance with tickets from just £15 if pre-booked by 3pm the day before racing and remember children under 18 go FREE!

See for full details