New Zealand Group 1 Ride for Sydney’s Clipperton

Sydney jockey Sam Clipperton gets the chance to add a New Zealand Group 1 win to his record this summer after snaring a ride in the 2015 Telegraph Handicap at Trentham Racecourse next weekend.

Sam Clipperton

Sam Clipperton will shoot for his maiden Group 1 win in New Zealand Saturday week riding in the Telegraph Handicap 2015. Photo: Daniel Costello.

New Zealand’s premier sprint, the Telegraph Handicap is worth NZ$250,000 in prize money and is run over 1200m every January.

Its honours list includes a host of quality gallopers including dual NZ Horse of the Year Seachange (2008) and Darci Brahma (2007) who also won The TJ Smith as a juvenile in Sydney two years earlier.

Saturday week Clipperton, now a full-fledged hoop, will be out to add his mount’s name to the list, the two-time Sydney Apprentice Jockeys’ Premiership winner booked to ride the Chris McNab-trained Trepidation.

Clipperton has been making a name for himself in the senior riding ranks over the past few months with rides for a host of major stables including Godolphin.

Back in late November Clipperton said he had set himself a number of goals as a senior rider, including riding a Group 1 winner “within two years”.

The closest he has come to Group 1 glory so far was in the Epsom Handicap at Royal Randick last October when only 1.6 lengths away third aboard the John Thompson-trained Hooked in a race quinelled by Chris Waller with He’s Your Man (1st) and Royal Descent (2nd).

He may not pop his Group 1 cherry down under however with the New Zealand chance coming up for him on McNab’s Cambridge-based Falkirk mare Trepidation.

The six-year-old hasn’t won since a first-up effort at Ellerslie when prepared by her former trainer Paul Shailer in December of 2013.

She ran a disappointing 13th behind Irish Fling in last year’s Telegraph Handicap after a horror run on a bone-jarringly firm track.

Trepidation was caught twelfth-wide at the 800m and then was the widest runner sitting right back over the closing stages unable to respond on the too-quick course.

The mare has been in better form this summer running a close third on Boxing Day in the Listed Newmarket Handicap (1200m) to Natuzzi and then fourth last time out on New Year’s Day.

Noel Harris, also aboard for the Newmarket, retained the ride in the Railway Stakes where Trepidation was away slow from the gates but able to make up good ground after a weaving burst over the final 100m to finish only a length off the winner In Style.

She’ll look to improve on that run, where she was held up between the 500m and 300m, then in the Telegraph Handicap with Clipperton replacing Harris in the saddle.

McNab chose Clipperton due to his ability to ride at a light weight, Trepidation allocated only 53kg in the Telegraph.

Harris meanwhile has instead opted to stick with the Alexander Fields-trained gelding Ginner Hart.

Winner of the Group 3 Lion Red Plate (1200m) in October, the six-year-old was last seen running under a length away third to Pure Champion in the Group 3 Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Awpauni on December 20 with Harris aboard.

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