Ivan Clark has answered the final call to post. Ivan passed away Monday, September 23 at age 83.
As the Spring Meet closed, and his beloved Churchbridge crossed the line yet again, Ivan told me
"I sure hope we can run here in the Fall."
Well, Ivan spent a few days at the Fall Meet, but his health was simply to frail. It just wasn't to
be. Lung cancer finally called the old trainer/jockey home.
"Ivan was a person we will certainly miss here to the Rocky Mountain Turf Club," said RMTC
CEO Max Gibb. "Ivan was the oldest jockey riding at the RMTC when he retired about 2003,
and he went on to have some good horses as a trainer," said RMTC CEO Max Gibb. "His horses
won a number of Alberta Community Thoroughbred Racing Association Awards, and few folks
were more deserving. Ivan will certainly be missed here at the RMTC.
"Ivan's wife Shirley is also active here at the RMTC, serving as our Parade Marshal. They were a
Shirley rode as Parade Marshall this past Saturday at the RMTC races.
Ivan only ran two horses, and they earned money for him ever since he came down to Lethbridge.
Ivan was proud of Churchbridge and Lot A Smoke, saying : "Both these horses have been darn
good to me."
Ivan had Churchbridge - usually with Teagan Oulton aboard - and Lot A Smoke, a 12-year-old
still going strong.
"They both run really well and I couldn't complain about either one," he said last Spring.
Ivan ride race horses throughout Alberta, Montana, North Dakota, Saskatchewan and
Manitoba and started riding when he was nine or 10 years of age.
"I quit riding in 1999, so I was 68 years of age. That means I rode horses for about 58 years," he
said with a laugh. "I was 90 pounds for a long while but I never went down east. To be a bug-boy
you had to be 105 pounds and I couldn't qualify because I was more than that when I was 16."
Training was his life since leaving riding.
"I said I was going to quit training the last couple of years . . . but I said why not keep going as
long as I'm feeling all right.'
But this Fall, despite Ivan's desire to return to Whoop-Up Downs, it just wasn't to be.
This spring, at their Okotoks home, Shirley got the horses into condition on the treadmill. Ivan
had also run his horses at times on the near-by Bar None Ranches track, a piece of ground equal
in size to the old Calgary track.
Ivan was a quiet man, but his presence was always felt at the RMTC. The little man with the big
heart - and hat - will be sorely missed.