Connor Clarke has managed to cram a bit into his teenage years, and at times some of the challenges have been greater than he could have reasonably expected.
In 2017, at the tender age of 14, Connor was diagnosed with a rare non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and, during a stint at Ronald McDonald House, the Adelaide Crows supporter came to the attention of GRV and Craig Hutchinson, who was raising funds for the house via Croc Media’s Off The Bench radio program.
GRV’s contribution to the program was, and still is, the ‘Chase for Charity’, raising funds for charities based on the hosts wagering on the greyhounds. During a visit to the house, Craig met Connor and was inspired to the point of shouting Connor, his father and brother, to the 2017 AFL Grand Final.
Fast forward to 2020, and Connor is seeing some success across two codes – trotting and greyhound racing.
Connor told Molly Haines in a recent interview on 1377 SEN Track that it’s a family thing. “Dad used to be a bit of a hobby trotting trainer, so it all started from there. I’ve always liked the dogs and in December last year I bought my first one, Buzz Out (trained at Maryborough Darrell Leathan).”
“I’ve been going out with Brianna Robertson-Leech, who has a few of her own. I looked through Facebook, basically, and greyhound data, and this one came up. We checked with a few people. The trial times were alright, so we thought we’d give him a shot.”
In April, Connor has also managed his first win in the sulky at Ballarat Trots with the Emma Stewart-trained Struve, to bring up a special sporting moment. “I’m lost for words”, he said at the time. “It’s a huge thrill.”
He backed that up with his first metro win at Melton’s Tabcorp Park just a week later, this time for his father, Stephen.
As for his health, Connor was officially in remission shortly after his Grand Final surprise. He’s having check-ups every three months and “going pretty smooth.”
And Buzz Out? At the time of writing, he’s had nine starts for three placings, the best a second at Horsham. If his owner’s tenacity and work rate is infectious, then you can bet Connor will get more than just a buzz out of him…
LISTEN: A flashback to AFL Grand Final day, 2017.
WATCH: Connor recently caught up with Molly Haines on SEN Track.
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