Superstitions will be cast aside when the emerging Happy Clapper steps out for Saturday’s $3 million The Star Doncaster Mile on day one of The Championships at Royal Randwick.
Happy Clapper is owned by ex-bookmaker Michael Thomas who resides in Canberra but dislikes being trackside to watch the horse on race day.
Both runs have been first rate and the step-up to 1600 metres will be perfectPat Webster
“Michael is highly superstitious and thinks by being at the track the horse will get beaten,” trainer Pat Webster explained. “He rarely comes to watch although Michael was in Sydney to see the horse win the Villiers so I told him he has broken the ‘curse’.
“It has taken some convincing but Michael has relented to my persuasion and he will be there to watch the horse compete in the Doncaster.”
Happy Clapper has flown under the radar and is still an $11 chance on TAB fixed odds (after earlier being $26) for the Doncaster Mile after a couple of super performances since he won the Group 3 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick last December.
The lightly-raced galloper has had two runs since returning from a spell and they have both been eye-catchers.
Happy Clapper returned from a 10-week break with a fourth to Holler in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick. The gelding then made up ground when fifth to superstar Winx in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 19.
“Both runs have been first rate and the step-up to 1600-metres will be perfect.”
Webster said the Villiers was a long-range goal that succeeded but after winning the race last summer, the Doncaster plan was hatched.
“We’re actually in the race by default,” the trainer explained. “Once we’d won the Villiers, later on we realised that he automatically qualified for the Doncaster.
“So we’ve then pointed the horse in the direction of the Doncaster and we’re now on track to have a shot at the title. It’s a time-honoured race and we believe we have a happy, healthy horse capable of winning it.
“He’s ready to run the race of his life and drops a massive 8.5 kilograms on his last start in a strong weight-for-age race. He’s not going to know himself with just 50.5 kilos.”
Happy Clapper – a five-year-old – has only had 16 starts for six wins and four placings with $427,000 in prize money.
“He spent 11 months in a paddock after being hurt,” Webster said. “My dad would always say injuries can be a blessing in disguise as it gives the horse time to mature while recuperating.
“Michael [owner] has been very patient and it has paid off as the horse has never gone better.”
Brenton Avdulla has ridden Happy Clapper in the horse’s past five starts and again retains the mount in the Doncaster Mile.
- Mark Brassel has been involved in horse racing and media all his life. After covering racing for newspapers, he joined Racing NSW 15 years ago and writes for Racing NSW Magazine and thechampionships.com.au