Clayton, ranked the 13th best showjumping rider in Great Britain, was cruelly denied an opportunity to shine on the week’s grandest showjumping stage with only the top 12 selected to compete.
But every cloud has a silver lining with the 22-year-old a strong fancy for Friday’s Under-23 event with a fired-up Clayton out to show the week’s main players just what they are missing.
“I’m pleased to get in for the one class, but I was a bit disappointed not to get in for the whole week,” said Clayton.
“I was so close as I was the next one on the list with Tim Stockdale getting in ahead of me.
“They take 12 and I guess I was unlucky 13. But I’m really looking forward and I guess I would be one of the favourites though there are a lot of strong riders and combinations in there like Daniel Neilson, William Whitaker and George Whitaker.”
The Whitakers are also from Huddersfield and neighbours of Clayton who, based on the rankings, is unquestionably the man to beat on board Mr Darcy.
Clayton’s mount has not competed in a major event since being seen in the CSIO5* Nations Cup at Gijon in Spain in September, but that approach has been very much by design.
“Mr Darcy has had a bit of time off so I just hope he’s not forgotten what to do,” said Clayton, based with Michael Whitaker at his yard near Grantham. “But I was always going to take him and it was always the intention to have him going there fresh.
“Michael has obviously taken Antello Z and there was also Wild Rose, but she has been busy lately and, hopefully, taking Mr Darcy down as a fresh horse will work.”
Clayton has past experience of Olympia and is hoping he is well-placed to land the £5,100 first prize.
“That’s a good prize for a young riders’ class,” said Clayton. “It’s very good money and the sort you would normally get for a normal Grand Prix event. But I think if I won, most of it would go to Michael – I’d have to make sure I got a share but I’ve also got the bills to pay.”
Also flying the flag for Yorkshire tomorrow is Wressle-based Kate Read with 28-year-old Mr Cracker in the Veterans’ Horse Society and Dodson & Horrell Championships final. Mr Cracker is owned by Mary Rook, a former master of the Holderness Hunt, but on loan to UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom and his wife Katie.