The drop back to the minimum on Saturday in the 2015 Villiers Stakes will come as a relief for the in-form favourite Happy Clapper who still has a task ahead of him according to trainer Patrick Webster.
All-in markets for the $250,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick Racecourse this weekend have Webster’s Teofilo five-year-old Happy Clapper as the early favourite.
The horse’s locally-based trainer isn’t sure about the favourite tag but hopes the gelding can continue his gun run this time in after back-to-back wins in Sydney.
“Markets don’t mean a thing,” Webster told AAP this week.
“I’ll take it as a compliment to the horse and hope he can deliver.”
Two back in late October he carted 58.5kg to victory over 1200m at Randwick before his half-length win at Rosehill over 1500m with a hefty 60.5kg on his back last time out.
In that November 28 victory Happy Clapper was especially brave with the big weight coming from the back of the pack to beat home Final Decision, so the drop to just 53kg for his Villiers Stakes assignment is a notable advantage.
“He had a very hard run under 60-1/2 kilos last time so we haven’t had to do a lot with him,” Webster said.
“He drops to the limit on Saturday so he will appreciate that.”
He is still up in grade for the Group 2 test however, Happy Clapper having his first black-type run since a third behind Savvy Nature at Newcastle back in September of 2013 in the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1600m).
That was one of his two previous runs over a mile, the other producing a win at Warwick Farm in March this year, giving Webster confidence as the favourite steps back up to that distance this weekend.
Randwick also holds no fears for Happy Clapper who is two from three at the track that hosts the latest Sydney Summer Racing Carnival meeting.
Brenton Avdulla was aboard for the two latest wins and retains the ride as Happy Clapper looks to extend his winning streak to three on Saturday.
A total of 26 Villiers Stakes nominations were taken this season with other last start winners in the mix including Festival Stakes champion Mighty Lucky and Kilmore Cup winner last time out over the mile Rhythm To Spare.
Villiers Stakes weights are led by Festival Stakes runner-up It’s Somewhat (59kg), the John O’Shea-trained Dynaformer gelding second-up on the weekend and yet to win from his four previous second-up assignments.
The next heaviest weighted hopeful is the Chris Waller-trained I’m Imposing (58.5kg) who goes up from the 55.5kg the now 10-year-old carried to victory in the same race 12 months ago.
I’m Imposing, dual winner of the Group 3 Summer Cup (2000m) at Randwick on Boxing Day in 2013 and 2014, hasn’t won a race in the past year and ran eighth beaten four lengths in the Festival Stakes last time out.
Another past Villiers Stakes winner back in 2015 after another victory is 2013 champion Ninth Legion for Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes.
That was the Fastnet Rock gelding’s sole win from eight runs at Randwick where he returns again on Saturday on the back of a sixth in the Festival Stakes, which followed a close fourth to Charmed Harmony in the Group 3 Sandown Stakes (1500m) a fortnight earlier.
The official 2015 Villiers Stakes final field and barrier draw is out on Wednesday so stay tuned.
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