Patrick Webster’s in-form improver Happy Clapper has opened clear favourite to win the feature Sydney Summer Racing Carnival feature of the weekend with a Royal Randwick victory in the 2015 Villiers Stakes.
A full field of 20 hopefuls face off in this year’s $250,000 Group 2 Inglis Villiers Stakes (1600m), the mile handicap due to jump as Randwick Race 7 at 4:25pm (AEST) on Saturday afternoon.
Drawn well in gate six with Brenton Avdulla to ride on the 53kg minimum, the local Teofilo gelding drops notably in weight after carrying 60.5kg to victory over 1500m at Rosehill a fortnight ago.
That win followed a 1200m Randwick triumph in late October with Happy Clapper carting 58.5kg for his second success from three runs at the track he returns to when stepping up in class for the Villiers Stakes.
Saturday is the horse’s first black-type assignment since a third to Savvy Nature in the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1600m) at Newcastle in September of 2013 and the bookies are taking no chances.
The nice lead-up and light weight have seen Happy Clapper installed at the top of the Villiers Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, the gelding paying $4.80 to extend his winning streak.
Despite the bumper field just three other runners are under double figures in the latest Villiers Stakes betting markets including the $6.50 second favourite Telepathic with a nasty barrier 18 of 20 draw to overcome.
Like the top fancy this Chris Waller-trained mare is after her third consecutive win, the Kiwi expat coming off back-to-back Rosehill wins last month.
A five-year-old daughter of Mossman, Telepathic won over 1500m two back in the wet carrying 59.5kg to victory before her Listed ATC Cup (2000m) success of a Good (3) track on November 28.
She won by nearly two lengths that day and dropping back in distance sees her still well fancied for the Villiers despite the wide barrier for jockey Jason Collett to overcome.
Equal $8 third picks in the markets are It’s Somewhat carrying the 59kg top weight from gate 14 and God’s In Him at the opposite end of the field and weights with 53kg and gate four.
The Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Dyanformer five-year-old It’s Somewhat is second-up on Saturday after a second in the Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) at fortnight ago.
He is yet to win over further than 1430m or second-up and is unplaced from two previous runs at Randwick, but is still a class galloper with Group 1 form to be considered.
God’s In Him represents Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes and has a gun Randwick record of three wins and a third from five starts.
He also has solid 1600m form (4-1-0-2) and comes off a fourth over 1400m at Rosehill three weeks ago with 61kg, the weight relief on Saturday a big plus.
Before that he was second when beaten just a neck in the Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m) by Vashka and his recent Randwick victories from the winter were on Heavy (10) tracks so any rain around this weekend will be another plus.
The next best in betting at $10 is the rails-drawn Frespanol for Gai Waterhouse.
The Choisir five-year-old is out to improve on a seventh in the Festival Stakes and should appreciate the mile with two wins and two seconds from six 1600m stars so far.
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