Rob Heathcote’s special little filly Startantes...
His horse may be carrying top kilos in the Epsom Handicap 2017 this Saturday in Sydney but trainer Pat Webster remains confident the bookies have it right with Happy Clapper to win the mile classic.
Teofilo seven-year-old Happy Clapper will cart 56.5kg this Saturday at Royal Randwick as the in-form veteran chases his first elite level win at career start number 28 in the Group 1 $1 million Epsom Handicap (1600m).
It will be the 11th Group 1 race for the galloper who was last seen giving Winx something to chase for his brave second to the super mare on September 16 in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m).
He returns to the same track and distance this weekend out to emulate Hauraki (2016) who improved on a second to Winx in the George Main to win last year’s Epsom Handicap.
The year before, Chris Waller’s now Hall of Famer Winx won the Epsom Handicap carrying 57kg.
If successful on the weekend Happy Clapper will be the heaviest weighted winner of the race outside of Winx since Racing To Win (57kg in 2006).
Before the George Main placing, Happy Clapper kicked off his Sydney Spring Racing Carnival carrying 57kg to victory in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick, his fourth win at the track.
He is a gun over the Randwick mile having won the 2015 Villiers Stakes at the track / distance.
Happy Clapper also boasts back-to-back Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) seconds behind Winx (2016) and It’s Somewhat (2017) respectively, and ran a close fourth under a length beaten in the Epsom Handicap results last season.
He had 55kg on his back in last year’s Epsom Handicap, and while he goes up 1.5kg this weekend, Webster remains bullish.
“I look at the weight and think 57kg is pretty fair for him because he has earned it,” Webster told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“He is still good enough to win with it and that’s why he’s favourite.”
The latest pre-field Epsom Handicap odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have Happy Clapper safe as the $4.60 favourite ahead of the Chris Waller-trained contingent.
Waller’s big hopes of securing his fourth Epsom Handicap win in five years are considered to be dual Oaks winner Egg Tart ($5.50), Comin’ Through ($9), Tom Melbourne ($10), Foxplay ($11) and McCreery ($15).
Despite the fact last start Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap winner Comin’ Through is carrying only 50.5kg in the Epsom and his stablemate Egg Tart is also well down the weights with the same kilos, Webster believes it will come down to experience.
“You look at the ones that are trying to get in light at the bottom of the weights, like Egg Tart and Comin’ Through, they still have to prove it at this level,” he said.
“He has been there, done that. He might not have won a Group 1 but as I said to my son, would you rather $2.4 million or a trophy on the mantelpiece.
“He has been doing it against the best horses around for a couple of years and going on his two runs, especially the George Main run, he is going as well as ever.
“My only concern is that Winx doesn’t just beat them, she sometimes stuffs them. He took a couple of days to get over that run in the George Main but he is bright and ready to go.”
To check out the latest Epsom Handicap 2017 betting odds before Tuesday morning’s final acceptances visit Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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