Clare's star turn - Lambert eager to repay owners' faith
Competing at eventing at all levels takes time, effort and a lot of money. Few can boast at being able to survive without producing and selling horses to fund this expensive sport.
Without loyal owners to put some horses through their hands, many riders simply go out of business.
Clare Lambert, however, is one of the lucky ones and this weekend she is hoping to make her horses' owners proud as she makes her long-awaited debut at the Tattersalls Horse Trials in Meath.
"I am very fortunate to have two super owners in David Lee and Diana Brody, and only for them, I would not be back at this level," said the 41-year-old, who will be competing a CCI*** for the very first time with the Lee-owned Whitmore Way.
"I have done numerous CIC events over the years, including several with Grange Bouncer, but I have never done a CCI three star, so I am really looking forward to it, especially on home ground," added the Wexford native.
Lee has been involved in eventing for over 30 years and is a well-known dressage judge within the sport.
Lambert greatly credits the owners of her two international horses with supporting her in recent times and believes Whitmore Way and Hartpury Sky Is The Limit, owned by Diana Brody, are both capable of giving the rider a debut to remember at the 12th running of Ireland's most popular three-day event.
"Whitmore Way is very special to us as she was bred by Madeline Byrne, who sadly passed away last year. I've only had her two years, but during that time, she has come from one star and this will be her first CCI***. To be honest, everything I do with her now is in memory of Madeline."
Hartpury Sky Is The Limit, meanwhile, was bred at Hartpury College in the UK and arrived with Lambert only 10 weeks ago. The combination were placed second at their first Irish event at Lisgarvan House in April and the rider is now aiming the gelding at the CCI** in which they will be hoping to better the sixth position achieved at the Ballindenisk International.
"I was delighted to get the ride on him when his owner relocated here from England. He is definitely one for the future," Lambert said of the 10-year-old.
Last season, she had much success in the Stepping Stones League with Ballykelly Notalot. "She is currently on a break from competition and last week produced a fabulous colt foal by Diamant de Semilly, but hopefully she will be back competing again next year."
In recent weeks, the seasoned competitor has been bringing on several other young horses for clients, a business which has been in the family for years.
Her father Jack (85) is a legend in Irish draught circles. Breeder of the great RID stallion Grange Bouncer, over the years he also trained and rode in point-to-points as well as being a familiar figure on the hunting field up to this season. He has recently retired.
Clare's husband Mark Ollard is also well known in these circles as the former huntsman of the Scarteen Black & Tans.
The family stud farm is now run by Jack's other daughter Ann, who is having great success with Grange Bouncer's stallion son, Killinick Bouncer.
Not surprisingly, their love for horses has been passed on through another generation and Clare's daughter Correna is now making a name for herself in the junior ranks of eventing.
A member of the fourth-placed Irish junior team at the European Championships in Italy last autumn, the 17-year-old will again partner LLC Cooley for the junior one-star at Tattersalls, where she will compete against a predominately Irish entry.
"She is very grateful to get the ride from owner Richard Sheane and hopes to qualify for the Europeans again later this year," said Clare.
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