Showjumper named Victoria's top equestrian

GRASSMERE showjumper Tim Clarke is Equestrian Victoria’s athlete of the year for 2013-14.

Flying high: Grassmere's Tim Clarke.

Flying high: Grassmere's Tim Clarke.

Flying high: Grassmere's Tim Clarke.

Flying high: Grassmere's Tim Clarke.

Clarke received the award at a gala function at Crown Casino on Saturday night as officials acknowledged his superb 12 months in the sport.

The 33-year-old claimed three major wins for the year, including two World Cup Australian league events in Sydney and Adelaide.

His third triumph was the coveted showjumping grand prix, one of three legs which made up the Australian championships last September.

Clarke, who achieved the results aboard 12-year-old mare Caltango, said he was pleased with his latest success.

“You look back and think it’s been a great 12 months. You’ve got to be very appreciative of how you’ve gone, you don’t often go that well,” he said.

“You enjoy the good times. It gives you enthusiasm to try harder for the future, to keep dedicating yourself to the sport.”

Clarke put the results down to a better understanding between him and Caltango, a two-time Golden Grand winner for Australian jumper of the year.

“It’s like AFL, you get used to the level required and you get a bit of confidence at that level and you start to reap the benefits,” Clarke said.

“She’s at her peak. We’ve had a bit of luck and it’s all gone well.”

Clarke and Caltango will compete in the Gawler round of the World Cup Australian league in late August as their next assignment.

The circuit then heads to Adelaide before five events in Victoria, including as part of the Royal Melbourne Show in late September.

Claiming Australian championships honours also in late September — won by former Woolsthorpe rider Jamie Kermond in 2013 — is also on the radar.

“Competing against the best in Australia enhances your skills, you’re a bit more used to the level of competition required,” Clarke said.

“If you want to test yourself, you’ve got to compete against these people. It makes you sink or swim.”

Clarke said he had been riding horses “for as long as I can remember”, having grown up on the family farm at Mortlake.

His parents, Morris and Judy, are also keen riders, as is his wife Ingrid. The couple have six horses in work at their Grassmere property.

“The success generally (keeps you going). If you’re going all right, it tends to keep you motivated,” he said.

“While you’re young and fit you’ve got to enjoy some sort of interest to relax you on weekends.”

The EV athlete of the year award was one of two major successes for south-west showjumpers on the weekend.

Kermond, these days based in Ebenezer, north-west of Sydney, earned selection for his second World Equestrian Games.

Kermond will ride 10-year-old bay stallion Quite Cassini in the Games, in Normandy, France, from August 23 to September 7.

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