Cowboy Guy brings a touch of the wild west to Newmarket
Sporting a pair of Western-style fringed boots and riding longer than Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, Mike Clark is not for nothing known as the Cowboy Guy by his boss Wesley Ward.
The 56-year-old has been one of the US operation's mainstays for more than 25 years and has certainly stood out since he came to Newmarket last week where most work-riders are half his size and ride as short as jockeys.
Although style may not be his strong point. Clark is a true horseman through and through and his tall frame is ideal for steady-cantering the Ward speedballs such as Lady Aurelia and the wayward McErin on the famous headquarters slopes.
Breaking off from his between-lots refreshment of German lager and a cigarette, Clark joked: "I first joined Wesley in 1990 but most of us only stuck around in the early days because it didn't look like we were going to get paid! The outfit was busted but we hung in there and we've had some great times together."
Given his riding gait, it is no surprise to find that Clark started out on the rodeo circuit in his native Arizona. He said: "I started in rodeos when all they had were hats, not helmets and back protectors like today. It was tough as I rode the bulls and got hurt a few times. I rode a few winners as a jockey after that but not a whole lot. I wasn't a good jockey and I enjoy this more."
In his time, Clark has ridden all of the Ward greats at home but has a particular favourite. He said: "I liked Judy The Beauty the best. She won over here in Europe before winning at the Breeders' Cup and has just had a baby by American Pharoah. Hopefully, Wesley will get that to train and I'm ready to break it in right now!"