The passing of Western Australian Standardbred Breeders Association President Kerry Clarke leaves a void which will take some time to fill.
Kerry passed away in the early hours of September 9th after a five month battle with cancer which may have affected him physically but failed to dampen his spirits and his zest for life.
Born in Midland in February 1938, Kerry grew up in Margaret River where his father was a prominent figure and member of the local shire council. After working in the city it was to be expected that he would retire back to his beloved South West.
Kerry was Head Of Biology at Christ Church Grammar School for a period of ten years prior to his retirement as a teacher in 1996 although he and his wife Bev maintained close links with Kerry’s former work-mates with their Yelverton farm being used for school biology camps each year.
Among Kerry’s students at Christ Church was a young David Lamond who recalls Kerry’s advice after David struggled with some issues in a human biology class.
“Kerry and I used to talk trots and swap tips and after that particular class he told me I should stick to trots”, David recalled recently.
David, who is now the editor of Australia’s highest selling race formguide TABForm, maintained contact with Kerry post school and they raced a couple of horses in partnership.
Kerry Clarke’s interest in trotting as a pastime began in the 1970s and he and Bev enjoyed success early on with a horse called Demon Adios which won four races for them when trained and driven by Lyle Lindau. Some 20 years later Kerry enjoyed some success as a trainer in his own right with Kagbeni and Muktinah.
Kerry and Bev’s experience with trotting took a different turn in 1995 when they bought, in partnership with their son Russell, the Windshield Wiper mare Shielding and, after a great deal of study of bloodlines and the like, Kerry selected Orange Sovereign as a stallion that would cross well with their new mare.
The first foal Shielding produced for the Clarke’s was Sovereign Jet which won a total of ten races. He was showing such promise as an unraced 2yo in 2000 that Shielding was sent back to Orange Sovereign and in 2001 she produced the Clarke family’s dream horse.
Sovereign Beejay won 26 of her 54 starts and more than $400,000 in stakes including a WA Oaks, WA Breeders Stakes, Golden Girls Mile, WASBA Breeders Stakes and Mares Mile while in the stables of Frank Bonnett.
Not content with merely enjoying the spoils of his good fortune as a breeder and owner Kerry Clarke was a contributor and he joined the committee of both the WA Standardbred Breeders Association and later the Bunbury Trotting Club and was a tireless worker for both. He was also a member of the WA Trotting Association and the Busselton Trotting Club.
In 2007 Kerry became President of WASBA and in that role was the breeders’ representative on Racing and Wagering Western Australia’s Harness Racing Consultative Group from 2007 until 2014 and the Western Australian delegate for the Australian Standardbred Breeders Association.
Breeders in this State may never fully appreciate just how passionate and articulate an advocate Kerry Clarke was for the local breeding industry.
A highly intelligent and thoughtful person, Kerry would carefully prepare his facts and figures before meetings and he never missed an opportunity to push the cause for breeders. The 12.5% Westbred Breeders Bonus for locally bred horses will be a lasting testament to Kerry Clarke’s passion for the long-term future of the Western Australian bred horse.
In 2007 Kerry and Bev saw a need for a family based tourist activity and it was a natural progression for a man so in tune with education, family and biology to develop the Yelverton property into one of the South West’s premier family tourist destinations and Wonky Windmill Farm was born.
After planting an orchard and olive grove the Clarke family added an amazing variety of farm animals in addition to a couple of emus, kangaroos, rabbits and an ostrich to produce the ultimate family outing as parents and children got an opportunity to interact with the animals which shared the property with Kerry’s beloved Standardbreds.
Kerry was a master at producing home-made jams and pickles and they, along with the olive oil and olives from the farm, became a popular souvenir of a visit to Wonky Windmill Farm long after the superb Devonshire tea had been consumed.
The Board, Management and staff at RWWA extend their deepest sympathies to Bev, Russell and Michelle and all members of the Clarke family on their sad loss.