At ease, Corporal

1980s stalwart Corporal Clinger has died

With medical science regularly helping to extend the human lifespan we can expect similar benefits for many of the racehorses that currently bring us entertainment, excitement and a run for our money. That's happening too late for many of the horses I remember from my younger days. One of the last of those, Corporal Clinger, was quietly put down on Monday this week.

Corporal Clinger was 33 years old, the equivalent of 90 in human terms, and as all good servants should, he was enjoying a peaceful retirement. When racing, Corporal Clinger was trained by Martin Pipe, but for his last years he had a box at Andrew Crook's stable in North Yorkshire.

Crook said of him, "He was a really good horse and he was with me for eight years. He was fine when I let him out on Saturday, but this morning (Sunday) he couldn't get up, so we called the vet."

On his day, Corporal Clinger was a match for any hurdler over 2 miles. After victory in both the Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham, a major Champion Hurdle trial, and Haydock's Swinton Handicap Hurdle in 1985, he was sent off second favourite behind the reigning champion, odds-on See You Then in the following year’s Cheltenham showpiece. However, a heavy fall at the fifth flight seemed to knock his confidence, and he only posted a further two victories before being retired at the end of 1988.

Regular jockey Paul Leach recalled the partnership. "He was a great ride and a great horse. He was well fancied for the Champion Hurdle and was a brilliant jumper despite a couple of falls. It was a nasty fall he had in the Champion Hurdle but he came back and showed how tough he was. He also had a fibrillating heart diagnosed at one point."

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