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Jockey Blake Shinn believes the form lines around Happy Clapper make him a hard to beat favourite in 2017 Epsom Handicap betting this Saturday at Royal Randwick.
A final field of 14 milers is set to face off in Randwick Race 7 at 4:00pm (AEST) in this year’s Group 1 $1 million Epsom Handicap (1600m) including the Patrick Webster-trained top weight Happy Clapper (57kg).
Happy Clapper is into $3 to win the Epsom Handicap, improving on his fourth in the race behind Hauraki last Sydney Spring Racing Carnival.
Favourites in Epsom Handicap betting don’t have the best record in the classic, with Winx (2015) one of just three to get the job done for the punters since 1996.
Jockey Shinn is confident going into the million dollar contest, his esteem boosted by the barrier, despite the statistics showing that no Epsom Handicap winner has saluted from gate four in over 30 years.
“It’s as good as it could be,” Shinn told the media after the barrier draw.
“With even luck he should go very close to winning.
“He has tactical speed and is going to get every chance.”
Both Shinn and Webster known Happy Clapper is deserving of the top kilos in the race and he is out to join the aforementioned Winx (2015) and Racing To Win (2006) as the latest Epsom champs to carry 57kg to victory.
“It’s a winnable weight for him in comparison to the horses down in the weights,” Shinn said.
“He should prove very hard to beat.
“He’s got good form and stats at the Randwick mile, so I think it’s a good recipe for him to hopefully get the right result on Saturday.
“He has got the best form lines of any horse going in so I’m very confident. He is in with the right weight to win.”
Happy Clapper won the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) first-up on September 2 with Josh Adams in the saddle before Shinn jumped on for a second-up run when runner-up to superstar mare Winx in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) a fortnight ago.
Shinn said that was a “career best run” from Happy Clapper who gave Winx something to chase down.
Last year Hauraki (2016) finished runner-up in the George Main Stakes before his Epsom Handicap win and Happy Clapper is tipped to emulate that form on Saturday.
The George Main Stakes was Happy Clapper’s fifth run over the Randwick mile.
Along with it and the Epsom fourth in 2016 the galloper boasts a Group 2 Villiers Stakes win from December in 2015 and back-to-back Doncaster Mile seconds over the 1600m at the track.
“I really hope for Pat Webster’s sake that he can get that Group One because he has done an amazing job with the horse. Pat does a lot for the industry and he deserves it,” Shinn said.
Turning to race tactics, Shinn said he would try to get Happy Clapper into a “nice comfortable rhythm” before turning it on in the later stages.
“You’ve got Red Excitement drawn three and a few horses out wide like Comin’ Through and Embley so there is going to be a lot of pressure,” he said.
“I’ve just got to get him into a nice comfortable rhythm.
“He sat three the fence in the Doncaster, was midfield the other day and was one-one when he won first up over 1400m so he’ll be in a position where I want him to be.”
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