Trainer Pat Webster is pleased with Happy Clapper leading into Saturday’s Group 2 Tramway Handicap (1400m) at Royal Randwick, but concedes the likely-to-be heavy conditions are a big test for his stable star first-up.
Happy Clapper has been a strong and consistent performer for Webster throughout his entire racing career; posting six wins and as many minors through only sixteen career starts since debuting in the winter of 2013.
Having won ballot-free entry into this year’s Doncaster Mile after taking out the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) in December, Happy Clapper returned to racing in March for fourth in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) before running a gutsy fifth in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) with 59kgs in tow a fortnight later.
Finishing second behind Winx in his major target, the Teofilo gelding returned to the paddock after running a close third in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on April 9th.
Webster told AAP that Happy Clapper is vulnerable on soft ground first-up, but is confident the horse will take plenty of benefit from the run with a view towards the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) on October 1st.
“The Tramway is race eight so by that time of the day the track could be chopped up,” he said.
“It’s not ideal and he’s vulnerable first-up. He gets through soft tracks but has only had one start on a heavy.
“I guess my instructions to Brenton Avdulla will be to come as wide as you can. But the last time I told him that, he came up the inside and won the Villiers.
“Brenton knows him well enough so he’ll know what to do after riding earlier in the day.
“We know he is a Group One horse after the autumn. The Epsom Handicap is his goal and he is entered for the Cox Plate. But I can’t wait to get Saturday out of the road first.
“I learned early on from Bart and TJ Smith you need a 2000 metre horse to win over the Randwick mile.
“From what I see, Happy Clapper is a 2000 metre horse and he showed how good he is in the Doncaster.”
Drawn in barrier 2, Happy Clapper will carry 57kgs and is currently available at 2016 Tramway Stakes odds of $4.60 with leading online bookie Ladbrokes.com.au.