Do You Remember Clopton?

Without doubt, we all have a duty of care, especially when it comes to the welfare of thoroughbred race horses.

In ways I find this article difficult to write because I love horse racing but I want the best for each and every horse. For that reason, I have never felt comfortable with the National Hunt as there will always be horses that fall on the steeplechase or hurdles.

I remember a horse called Clopton. This chestnut gelding run a few times at Great Yarmouth and I bet on him once or twice. Pretty sure he run a gallant race and finished third. To be fair Clopton wasn’t the fastest horse in the world. But he was horse who I loved in a way. He was just another horse, but not to me.

A few years later, I noticed he changed stables and was racing on the National Hunt. I had a very uneasy feeling about this new challenge in life. I followed each and every run checking the results in the Racing Post. Clopton achieved one win in twenty-six starts, when prevailing by a short head at Huntingdon.

I continued to follow his races more hopeful he got home safe than winning (It never bet as it didn’t sit comfortably).

On the 6th September 1990 I checked the result of the 3:55 Fontwell, the Partnership Selling Hurdle over 2 mile 2 furlongs, jumping nine hurdles. I read the race comments: ‘5th when pulled up 4th, dead.’

I felt sick.

Those words seemed so to the point, and without care (not to say the person who wrote them didn’t care it is ‘just’ the terminology the race writers use).

Clopton must have suffered a serious injured and euthanised.

He was just six years old.

I couldn’t help but wonder what that day meant for so many people. His owner, Geoff Hubbard, trainer, Ferdy Murphy, for Mr T J Barry a 7lb apprentice riding him for the first time. What did the stable lad or lass think at the loss of Clopton.

What did the crowd of spectators think?

What was it like to drive the horsebox home leaving Clopton behind?

I hope all went home that day with sorry in their heart or a tear in their eye.

Perhaps they did. Perhaps they didn’t.

Clopton lost his life that day. Perhaps he loved racing. It was what he was born to do. It’s possible he hated every moment.

I was just an objective viewer but someone who cared.

Clopton’s total race earnings on the National Hunt totalled £3,905. He won two races on the Flat at Great Yarmouth which probably totalled to a similar level.

He achieved three wins in his short life.

I’m probably one of few people on this planet to remember Clopton and almost certainly the only one to write a brief synopsis of his life.

You made my day on a sunny day at Yarmouth and I reflected on your life with sadness at Fontwell Park.

God Bless, Clopton.