Clark happy to raise glass to another year's backing.
SPONSORSHIP is something of a political hot potato in the sport at the moment but one race is safe from the issues arising from British racing's authorised betting partner policy, at least as long as Nick Clark is around.
Clark is better known when his name follows those of Haynes and Hanson, and the 36th running of the Haynes, Hanson & Clark Conditions Stakes takes place at Newbury today.
During that time it has been won by Rainbow Quest and Nayef, while Shahrastani and Authorized recovered from being beaten to win next year's Derby. Fellow Epsom heroes Henbit and Shergar were successful before the race's association with the drinks supplier started.
"Once I'm dead they can give it away," says the 68-year-old when asked about long-term plans for the mile contest.
Newbury's longest-running Flat sponsor is now minus the late Denis Haynes, who owned a stud near Thetford and was, like Clark, a racing man.
"Denis Haynes was the one egging me on," adds Clark, whose involvement in sponsorship dates back to when Piper-Heidsieck supported the 1973 Cheltenham Gold Cup and also includes a spell with Schweppes, which is synonymous with the race now known as the Betfair Hurdle.
"We wanted it in the autumn before Christmas to remind people we were alive and well. I went to see Nick Lees at Newmarket and he offered me a seller on Cheveley Park day, but I came to see Charlie Toller at Newbury. I remember being there when Henbit won the race he offered in 1979, and then a year later Shergar won it and they went on to win the Derby; it was a no-brainer.
"I learned working for Schweppes they had one of the great races in that it was the Schweppes Gold Trophy whereas the Piper-Heidsieck Cheltenham Gold Cup was a bit of a mouthful. You look at the history of race sponsorship and how the Hennessy works, the Coral-Eclipse, what was the Benson and Hedges, the Whitbread.
"So the attraction of going to Newbury was we weren't encumbered by being a prefix or tacking our name on to something else; we could call it the Haynes, Hanson & Clark Stakes. We've created something special."
Clark is in his 50th year in the drinks trade and says he has built up his business from the support of trainers, particularly from Lambourn.
"P Walwyn in 1973 was my first client and then Barry Hills in 1974, and Barry's still on my books now; he's my most loyal client," says Clark.
"Sponsoring started because I wanted to say thank you to racing. Why go to Newbury or anywhere? Because you love the thrill of a bet, you love the thrill of the horses and you go away feeling happy."