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Ernest Edward Clarke (1869–1941)

from Argus

Mr. Ernest Edward Dowling Clarke, who died at his home in St. Kilda road yesterday, was one of the leading owners and breeders of the Australian Turf for the last 40 years. Horses owned by him and trained by the late James Scobie won more than £150,000 in stakes, and were successful in many of the important races in the Australian racing calendar.

Throughout his career as an owner Mr. Clarke's horses were trained for him by James Scobie, and when Scobie announced his retirement on his 80th birthday in July, Mr. Clarke also decided to relinquish racing.

Mr Clarke's association with racing as an owner began in 1902 when on the advice of his brother Sir Rupert Clarke he commissioned Scobie to purchase a yearling at the Sydney sales. Scobie's choice was Emir who cost 1,000 guineas.

With Emir Mr Clarke won the Champion Stakes and other races and when it was time for Emir to retire from the turf Mr Clarke decided to establish the Melton Stud. Emir, however, proved useless as a sire and Mr Clarke commissioned the late J. E. Brewer to buy a stallion and several mares in England.

Brewer selected the Flying Fox horse, The Welkin, and was able to purchase him for 800 guineas. Among the mares were Teppo and Light.

With Eye Glass, whom he purchased as a young horse, Mr Clarke won two Port Adelaide Cups and shortly afterward began winning races with horses of his own breeding. With few exceptions Mr Clarke raced only the horses he bred himself and when the progeny of The Welkin began racing he enjoyed outstanding success.

One of the earliest of them was Spica, winner of the Debutant Stakes and the Maribyrnong Trial Stakes but she died early in her career. Then in quick succession came those brilliant two year olds Two, Deneb, Thrice, Trey, Isa, Rosina, Angelia, Furious and Versine. Five of them won the Ascot Vale Stakes while Furious won the Gimcrack Stakes, the Champagne Stakes and the AJC Sires Produce Stakes.

As a three-year old Furious covered herself with further glory by becoming one of the few mares to win the Victoria Derby and a few days later she won the Oaks Stakes. Furious was the second Victoria Derby winner for Mr Clarke as Wolowa won in 1912, and in later years Trivalve and Hua secured the event for him.

When The Welkin's career as a stallion was ending Mr Clarke again looked to England for a stallion and his choice was Cyklon. Cyklon's best son was undoubtedly Trivalve who won both Derbies in 1927 and completed a notable treble by winning the Melbourne Cup.

Upon the death of Cyklon, Mr Clarke decided to give up the breeding of thoroughbreds and the Melton Stud was dispersed in 1935. Mr Clarke however still retained his interest and purchased a yearling or two each year to carry his colours. His last good horse was Hua whom Scobie maintained was the best horse he ever trained.

Gloaming, who became one of the greatest racehorses in New Zealand, was bred by Mr Clarke at Melton but instead of keeping the son of The Welkin, Mr Clarke sold him as a yearling to the late Mr G. D. Greenwood for 230 guineas. That was one of the greatest bargains ever made in horseflesh in Australia as Gloaming won £43,100.

Mr Clarke was a son of the late Sir William John Clarke, formerly of Rupertswood, Sunbury.

The funeral will leave Sleights Chapel, St Kilda rd, at 10.30 am today for Springvale Crematorium.

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Citation details

'Clarke, Ernest Edward (1869–1941)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 April 2024.

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