‘My late brother inspired me to do it’ – Garry Clarke
By Duane Ranger
In many ways Garry Clarke has his late brother Richard to thank for going ‘boots ‘n all’ into harness racing.
The Mosgiel boilermaker, has always had an interest in the sport, but when his younger sibling passed away, it was just the motivation Clarke needed to buy a broodmare.
Life of Art with over the moon connections at Addington. (c) Ajay Berry
“We lost Richard five years ago and he was the youngest in a family of four. We also have an older brother and sister. When he died it gave me the inspiration to live life a little bit more,” Clarke said.
And following the first race at Addington Raceway on Saturday (April 8), Clarke has now bred his fourth winner, when the Amber Hoffman trained, and Blair Orange driven Life Of Art won the Woodlands Stud R44-R55 Pace.
The 5-year-old Art Major gelding, which Clarke also owns, has now won four of his 15 starts and placed in four others ($35,483) since making his debut at Forbury Park in October 2020. He was the $1.80 favourite.
“That was a very gutsy win after sitting parked, leading, and then being headed in the straight. His personal best mile rate of 1:56.6 was quick considering he looked beaten on the turn. He’s still got plenty to learn, but he’s rapidly becoming the best horse I’ve bred,” Clarke said.
“Amber has done a brilliant job with him up there at Waikouaiti, and it was also a lovely drive by Blair. He got the best out of the horse at the right times. It’s not hard to see why he’s off to the World Driving Championships,” he added.
Clarke said he bought the two foals out of Life Of Art’s mother, the 2010 brown Western Ideal – Nicky’s Delight (Artsplace), mare Nicky’s Ideal, and then decided to buy the dam.
“Paul Renwick bred the first two foals – Parama (2015 Bettor’s Delight gelding) and his full sister, Nikasa. They won four and two races for me in New Zealand and then did well in Australia and the United States. I then decided to buy the mare, who was in foal to Art Major. Life Of Art was the result,” Clarke said.
Parama (1:52.2) went on to win 11 races all up in Queensland, while Nikasa (1:52 USA) won 14 races ($149,333) in Western Australia, and then several more in the United States.
“They were both lovely pacers and I have no regrets selling them, because I have the mare and now this promising 5-year-old, who has only had 15 starts.
“Nicky’s Ideal is proving to be a nice broodmare because her first four foals have all won races.
Foal four – A Rocknroll Dance 4-year-old gelding named Ideal Dance, won a race at Wyndham in January last year for Clarke, and is now in the Riverina in New South Wales, where he has won three of his 12 starts and recorded a 1:53.7 mile.
“The mare has also left a 3-year-old Sweet Lou colt named Nickys Lou and a full 2-year-old sister, which is yet to be named. I find the Sweet Lous’ leave horses which are a bit narrow in the front and that is why some of his horses wear spreaders.
“The 3-year-old is still a bit wobbly, so I’ve chucked him out for the winter and then bring him back as a late 3-year-old. The filly is wider but not as big as her brother. I’ll have a go with her in about a month,” Clarke said.
Clarke said Nicky’s Ideal had since missed twice to Captain Crunch in 2021 and 2022.
“It’s not too much of a concern because she’s only 12, so I’ll leave her empty this year and look at an alternative sire in October. Whoever it is, it will be a stallion that is wide in the front,” Clarke said.
He said Life Of Art was originally trained by Darryn Simpson at Oamaru, and then he was transferred to Hoffman in late 2021 so he could be trained on the beach.
Clarke was born in Pigeon Flat and educated at Technical College in Dunedin.
“I’ve always loved the trots. Dad (Owen) had horses and his best Red Pigeon only just missed out on a start in the 1939 New Zealand Cup.
“I really enjoy the breeding side of it. Life Of Art is the first horse that I have bred and obviously the best. He has added a new dimension to the game. I enjoy it.
“I’m also breeding from another 12-year-old mare named Te Amo Bromac (12 Br m Mach Three – Tandias Courage – Stoneridge Scooter. She won seven races and placed a in a few Group Ones for Mark Purdon. She has left five foals, including a beautiful Lazarus weanling colt named Laz A Bromac. She’s now in foal to Lazarus again,” Clarke said.