The Ron Quinton-trained Royal Celebration is one...
After a half-century of training horses Patrick Webster was close to tears after breaking the duck with the always-honest Happy Clapper saluting for the punters in the Epsom Handicap 2017 results.
Webster has prepared a host of Group 2 and 3 winners over his 50 year career, but until today the elite level victory had eluded him.
Gutsy Teofilo seven-year-old Happy Clapper changed all that at Royal Randwick, the veteran at his pet track and distance in the Group 1 $1 million Epsom Handicap (1600m).
“50 years this year I’ve been training,” an emotional Webster told Channel 7.
“I just can’t believe it.
“There’s Clapper, Clapper’s just Clapper.”
A dual Doncaster Mile runner-up over the 1600m at the track, Happy Clapper also finished a close fourth when under a length beaten by the winner Hauraki in last year’s Epsom Handicap and was second past the post behind Winx last start in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m).
For the second year on the trot, that George Main Stakes second to Winx form held-up in the Epsom Handicap with Happy Clapper charging to the line ahead of the Chris Waller-trained perennial runner-up Tom Melbourne.
Saluting as favourite in Epsom Handicap betting for the first time since Winx (2015), Happy Clapper also became the first seven-year-old winner of the time-honoured Sydney Spring Racing Carnival feature since Super Impose for his second back in 1991.
Ridden to victory by Blake Shinn, who also enjoyed an Epsom victory aboard Rock Kingdom in 2009 for Gai Waterhouse, Happy Clapper was one of the best out of the barriers this afternoon settling third on the rails behind the leader Red Excitement.
The Team Waller-trained contingent meanwhile were mainly at the back of the field, Foxplay ridden stone cold at the rear with in-form lightweights Comin’ Through and Tom Melbourne also well back in transit.
At the 600m Comin’ Through, last start winner of the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m), started to move up on the outside, while Glen Boss was riding for luck on super-consistent Dylan Thomas seven-year-old Tom Melbourne who was coming off three straight seconds.
Shinn had enjoyed a great run all the way on Happy Clapper and started to give chase once they rounded the bend.
Tom Melbourne, looking to finally get past the post first, was also slicing through.
At the 200m Happy Clapper ($2.40) took the lead and held off Tom Melbourne ($7.50) who had a five kilo advantage over the successful top weight.
Rounding out the Epsom Handicap trifecta in third was $21 outsider Snitzon from the Lindsay Park stables, the four-year-old Snitzel entire relishing the 50.5kg.
Happy Clapper has now won over $3 million in career prize money and could now head south to take on Winx again in the Group 1 $3 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 28.
Waller’s dual defending Cox Plate hero Winx is odds-on at $1.50 through race sponsor Ladbrokes.com.au in their pre-field markets on the weight-for-age classic, while Happy Clapper has firmed in $21 second favouritism.
2017 Epsom Handicap Results & Finishing Order
Randwick Race 7 – 30/09/2017
|1||1||HAPPY CLAPPER||Patrick Webster||Blake Shinn||–||2||57kg||$2.40F|
|2||9||TOM MELBOURNE (IRE)||Chris Waller||Glen Boss||0.5L||9||52kg||$8|
|3||13||SNITZSON||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Cory Parish||3L||3||50.5kg||$26|
|4||2||FOXPLAY||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||3.1L||10||54.5kg||$8|
|5||3||SOUND PROPOSITION (NZ)||Kris Lees||Corey Brown||3.4L||7||54kg||$12|
|6||11||COMIN’ THROUGH||Chris Waller||Joao Moreira||4.4L||8||51kg||$5|
|7||6||MCCREERY (GB)||Chris Waller||Tommy Berry||4.9L||4||53kg||$26|
|8||5||RED EXCITEMENT||Gerald Ryan||Brenton Avdulla||5.8L||1||53.5kg||$18|
|9||12||SAVILE ROW (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Jay Ford||7.1L||5||51kg||$31|
|10||8||ZANBAGH||John P Thompson||Damian Lane||7.9L||6||52.5kg (cd 53kg)||$31|
|–||14||EMBLEY||Bjorn Baker||Andrew Adkins (a)||–||0||–||–|
|–||4||HE’S OUR ROKKII (NZ)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Dwayne Dunn||–||0||–||–|
|–||7||I AM A STAR (NZ)||Shane Nichols||Dean Yendall||–||0||–||–|
|–||10||EGG TART||Chris Waller||Kerrin McEvoy||–||0||–||–|
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