Claret, the Monaro bred mare who brought fame to the district was owned and bred by the McNee family of “Bulong” Cooma.
Claret was sired by King Pharaoh out of the McNee’s, Delta-bred mare, Sugar Time. It was hoped that the mating would produce a quality show hack but this was not to be. Nor did she show any promise as a race horse like her half-brother, Scotch Tom. It was noticed with interest however, that from when she was a tiny foal, she took great delight in soaring from paddock to paddock – no fence daunted her.
Her career as a showjumper began in 1973 when Victorian Jeff McVean was competing in the Cooma district. Jeff tried Claret over some practise jumps which she handled well and the rest is history. Claret went from her first success in coming in sixth in the County of Cumberland Championships at Castle Hill in 1973 to be one of the best showjumpers in the world.
Claret and Jeff competed with a great deal of success at Royal shows in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne as well as at a host of other venues right around the country.
A tour of New Zealand followed in which the Jeff McVean and Claret combination really distinguished itself. Claret won eight out of the ten Grand Prix events that she competed in and capped it all by winning the richest and most esteemed event in that country – The Wills Horse of the Year Title at Hastings. An invitation to compete in England was the sequel to the Australian and New Zealand successes.
Claret first stunned the English horse world by taking out the 1978 Embassy British Championships at Hickstead over a very long and gruelling course. Following this win, Jeff and Claret were granted an official invitation to compete at the Royal International Horse Show at Wembley, London.
At Wembley they won the most prized award in the world of showjumping – The George V Golf Cup, valued in 1978 at 55,000 pounds sterling. Claret was only tiny, but was all heart.