F. Ambrose Clark

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For other people of the same name, see Ambrose Clark (disambiguation).
Frederick Ambrose Clark in 1916
F. Ambrose Clark, October 1953.

Frederick Ambrose Clark (August 1, 1880 – February 26, 1964) (more commonly listed as F. Ambrose Clark) was an American equestrian.[1]

Biography[edit]

He was born on August 1, 1880 to Alfred Corning Clark. He was a grandson of Edward Clark. His siblings were Edward Severin Clark, Robert Sterling Clark, and Stephen Carlton Clark.

He married Florence L. Stokes in 1902. (She died October 2, 1950). According to Time Magazine[2] she was regarded "a model sportswoman" for her zest and attitude. Her horse Kellsboro Jack carried her colours to victory in the 1933 English Grand National.[3] He remarried November 9, 1952 to Constance Augusta Miller who died December 20, 1981 Marylebone, London, England.[4] His only child, Ethel Stokes Clark, never married and predeceased him.

He died on February 26, 1964.[1]

Activities[edit]

Referred popularly and with affection as “Brose” he was perhaps not only the quintessential equestrian sportsman of his generation, but perhaps in all of 20th century America. Brose was indelibly linked with horses throughout his life until his ailing heath in 1963 marked the disbanding of his horse stables after 60 years of racing the light blue and yellow silks.

Visually it was often quoted that he looked to be a man who stepped right out of a 19th-century sporting print. He was almost always seen in a tweed English cap, waistcoat, breeches and tall boots throughout his life in person and in captured images.

Never having attended college he did however pour himself into his passion for all things equestrian. He himself a gentleman rider who owned, bred and trained horses for steeplechase, polo, flat racing, driving, show jumping, and fox hunting.

Properties[edit]

He owned a 5,000-acre (20 km2) estate in Cooperstown, New York known as Iroquois Farm, a 400-acre (1.6 km2) estate in Old Westbury, LI known as Broad Hollow, an apartment in the Manhattan, New York building The Dakota built by his grandfather, a sprawling estate in Aiken, South Carolina acquired in 1929, known as Habersham House,[5] (built in 1927 for Kenneth Schley, Master of the Essex Hunt) in the Aiken Winter Colony and had a seasonal residence at Melton Mowbray, England.

He privately published in 1958 a limited catalog of his sporting paintings: The F. Ambrose Clark Collection of Sporting Paintings Which included select works by artists Sir. Alfred Munnings and George Stubbs among many others.

Ambrose was master of hounds for the Meadow Brook Hounds in the 1920s.[6] That hunt annually held a well-attended steeplechase race meeting on Mr. Clark's property, Broad Hollow in Westbury (Long Island), starting in 1919. Always the consummate horseman with a disdain for automobiles, famously Brose would not allow NBC radio to drive their equipment truck onto the estate to broadcast the races. Rather they had to use a team of horses to haul the equipment in.

Mrs. Clark owned Foshalee Plantation, a 11,456-acre (46.36 km2) quail hunting property in northern Leon County, Florida just north of Tallahassee from 1938 until 1949.[7]

Noted horses[edit]

The most famous horse under Brose was a gelding he sold to his wife Florence for $5.00 (1 pound) at the time just prior to the 1933 English Grand National was Kellsboro Jack (Ireland). Trained by Ivor Anthony, the American-bred horse would become, at the time, just the 3rd American owned horse to win the grueling English steeplechase race at Aintree Racecourse.[8] In the same race Ambrose had entered Chadd's Ford who finished next to last. Kellsboro Jack's time of 9 minutes 38 seconds set a new record for the event.

Inducted into the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum, January 23, 1977, was his horse Tea Maker who raced from 1948 to 1953 and was bred by Mrs. F. Ambrose Clark.[9] Tea Maker, at the age of 9, won the 1950 Vosburgh Stakes and American Legion Handicap.[10] He earned the top honors as 1952's American Champion Sprint Horse.

Despite Mr. and Mrs. (Florence) Clark's enthusiasm they did not find success in the American Triple Crown races. In 1928's Belmont Stakes their Broom Wisk finished 4th of 6 runners. In 1942 their Top Milk runner finished 7th of 7 runners in the Belmont Stakes.[11]

Legacy[edit]

Brose would upon his death be buried beside his beloved Kellsboro Jack just outside the village of Cooperstown, NY on a hillside overlooking the community. Since 1927, he had employed Laura Stevens at his Iroquois Farms; she was the wife of the aeronaut A. Leo Stevens, then living in Fly Creek, NY.

Today the very selective F. Ambrose Clark Award is highest honor given in steeplechasing by the National Steeplechase Association. A coveted award, it is given to “individuals who have done the most to promote, improve, and encourage the growth and welfare of steeplechasing.”

Upon his death, his estate donated Broad Hollow to become the State University of New York at Old Westbury. Its main sports venue, the Physical Education and Recreation Center, was renamed for Clark in 1988. The Clark Center is the home of the Old Westbury basketball programs and the Nassau County men's high school basketball championships.

Iroquois Farm remained with the Clark family, Habersham House (bought in 1929 by Clark and renamed Kellsboro after the Grand National victory) in Aiken went to nephew George H. "Pete" Bostwick. The bulk of his financial estate remained with the family trusts:,[12] The Clark Estates and Scriven Foundation.

The manor house at Iroquois Farm was razed in 1981 to make room for what was planned to be the relocation of the Clark Sports Center.[13] Final changes resulted it being located in 1983 on what was the training track of Iroquois Farm. His significant collection of tack and historic carriage were put into The Carriage Museum of Cooperstown NY held in the Clark's Elk Street stables which closed in the late 1970s.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "F. Ambrose Clark Dead at 83. Sportsman and Horse Breeder. Colorful Racing Figure Had Stable for 60 Years. Steeplechase Rider". New York Times. February 27, 1964. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  2. ^ Time Magazine
  3. ^ [1] Aintree website list of winners
  4. ^ http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:w_QhnSpPjTQJ:rotton.familytreeguide.com/register.php%3FpersonID%3DI48030%26tree%3DT1%26PHPSESSID%3D48c1d05f8b91c19d9b8063dce033f0e8+%22Constance+Augusta+Clark%22&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
  5. ^ Habersham House
  6. ^ was the Master of Fox Hounds (MFH)
  7. ^ Paisley, Clifton, From Cotton To Quail: An Agricultural Chronicle of Leon County, Florida, 1860-1967, University of Florida Press, 1968. p. 88 ISBN 978-0-8130-0718-2
  8. ^ Time Magazine: Kellsboro Jack
  9. ^ Aiken Racing Hall Of Fame: Tea Maker
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ [3]
  12. ^ The Clark Foundation
  13. ^ Clark Sports Center