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Jockey Blake Shinn is confident his mount in Saturday’s 2018 Doncaster Mile field Happy Clapper has what it takes to emulate a rare Randwick mile Group 1 double last completed by the world’s best mare Winx.
Just seven horses in history have taken out both the Epsom Handicap and Doncaster Mile over the 1600m at Royal Randwick, the latest being Chris Waller’s champion Winx in 2016.
On Saturday Pat Webster’s evergreen seven-year-old Happy Clapper gets the chance to be the eighth when he lines up in the Group 1 $3 million The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) for the third time.
Two years back he was second to Winx in the Doncaster Mile results, a placing he repeated behind It’s Somewhat last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
This weekend the son of Teofilo will be out to go one better and snare the Doncaster Mile trophy on the back of another second to Winx, this time in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.
That followed on from his nice first-up win in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick, his 17th start at the track and sixth win.
His other best Randwick run was last September when he also came off a second to Winx in the George Main Stakes to win the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m).
Regular rider Shinn continues his successful association on Happy Clapper in the Doncaster and goes into the handicap classic on Day 1 of ‘The Championships’ full of confidence.
“You could arguably say he’s in the best form of his career,” he told Racing NSW this week.
“I know it is hard to believe that when he is seven-years old but he won a Group 1 first-up and tested Winx in the George Ryder.
“I’ve been very happy with his progress this preparation and he’s drawn a great barrier.
“Hopefully this will be his chance to get a victory in the Doncaster.”
Happy Clapper is drawn barrier one of 16, Haradasun in 2007 the last Doncaster Mile winner to jump from the inside alley.
Current Doncaster Mile odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have the race’s dual runner-up as the $5 second favourite, markets led by the George Ryder third placed three-year-old Kementari.
The Godolphin-raced Lonhro colt won the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) at the Doncaster track and distance before that and looks very well weighted for Saturday with just 51.5kg.
“The Doncaster is steeped in tradition in Australian racing. It’s a very special race,” Shinn added.
“Horses like Sunline, Super Impose, I can remember watching champions like them and champion jockeys win the race.
“It’s a significant race and winning a Doncaster, not only for Pat but myself, it would be up there in the big ones on my list.”
The thing working against Happy Clapper historically is his 57kg weight.
Secret Savings (57kg 1997) was the last male Doncaster Mile winner to carry more than 56.5kg to victory, but gun mares Sunline (58kg in 2002) and More Joyous (57.5kg in 2012) handled plenty of weight in their wins over the boys.
Still, Shinn remains positive.
“I think he has a winning weight,” he said.
“You’ve obviously got Kementari and D’Argento down on 50kg, but in terms of weights and facts and figures I think he pretty much has the rest covered.
“And I couldn’t see it being a slowly run Doncaster. It’s a big field, a high-pressure race and there are horses with light weights.”
To back Happy Clapper to win the Doncaster Mile 2018 at the right price head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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