Huggan On Clarke

John Huggan on Darren Clarke's life since losing his wife a little over a year ago:
Another understandable factor in Clarke's on-course woes this year has been dealing with the first anniversary of his wife's passing. He and the boys were back home in Portrush for two weeks' holiday last month, in the middle of which fell the fateful day.

"To be honest, in the build-up to the anniversary I wasn't at the races at all," he says, his eyes suddenly focused on a point far away.

"It was all a bit much for me. But then, when August 13 did come around [one day before his own birthday], it was almost as if a wee bit of weight was lifted off my shoulders. By then I had done every birthday, every anniversary, the first Christmas, so all the bits and pieces had passed. I'd been through everything once.

"We all went up to the grave together. It's not as if I shush anyone when Heather's name comes up. The kids and I talk about her all the time. It would be wrong to exclude her name from conversation. In the car the other day Connor asked if I remembered when mummy was alive and we did this or that. That's the way they talk. Sometimes I get a lump in my throat but I wouldn't have it any other way. I want them to remember their mummy.

"I went up to the grave on my own for quite a bit of time late in the day. There were a lot of flowers, including a lovely big bouquet from Padraig and Caroline Harrington. I'll never forget that gesture, it was just so nice of them to think of Heather."