Graham Fletcher: The family giving Britain a chance *H&H VIP*

  • As the outdoor season ends, it’s worth reviewing new combinations with the potential to be on British teams next year. One that has really stood out for me is Clark Glasgow and his stunning 10-year-old bay mare Fleur De L’Aube.

    Clark’s fledgling career has gone through the roof over the past few months. He’s the British Showjumping national champion and at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) he won a class, was placed in the grand prix and finished as the leading British rider.

    Fleur has blood; she’s also careful, scopey and has the ability to go all the way. Nevertheless, Clark is abandoning his international ambitions because he feels his chosen profession of medicine is more important than the fame and glory a sporting career can bring.

    I caught up with him the day after HOYS. He’d had a 2.30am finish at the show on the Sunday night, followed by a 7am start at the hospital as part of his seven-year course.

    Why was he giving up when he has a horse that any junior or young rider would die for, I asked him.

    A day of lectures and dissections was proving to be “a brilliant return to earth”, he replied. Riding is a passion, but it was not what he was meant to do.

    “I want to make a difference to people’s lives,” he told me. “I want to try to figure out one compound, one drug to help people live longer and ultimately cure disease.”

    Clark also revealed that Fleur would not be lost to British showjumping. There have been good offers made — which I know to be true because I asked if he wanted to sell her — but his parents have decided to keep her and enjoy watching Tim Stockdale take the ride.

    Tim will ride the mare at an international show abroad this week. Thanks to the Glasgow family’s support, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on teams next year.

    That a good horse is to stay in the UK is great news for our sport. And how refreshing to come across this charming and humble young man who’s very different to some when they’ve had a bit of success.

    I wish Clark the very best. However much importance we place on our achievements in sport, it pales into total insignificance compared with a quest to cure cancer.

    Unbeatable atmosphere

    Many of my older friends still talk about the great times we had at HOYS at Wembley.

    There were so many places you could meet up that lots of people visited annually even if they didn’t have horses competing, just to be part of it.

    Olympia is where they go now, as Birmingham’s NEC is a soulless place for competitors, connections and grooms. You get tired of incessant wristband inspections by security personnel; you go for a drink at one of the outlets and when you ask for some ice, you’re looked at as if you’re from Mars.

    And yet, just as you’re starting to get hacked off with it all, you go into the main arena and witness the full house, the incredible acoustics and the crowd involvement — and realise that it makes for an atmosphere that no three-star show in the world can surpass.

    Having watched the vaulting this year, I can’t understand why gymnastics on horseback isn’t an Olympic sport. It must surely be one of the most cost-effective equestrian disciplines, which the public of every nation would love.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 22 October 2015