By Brad Gray
Using Winx as a barometer, there’s a case to be made that Epsom Handicap-winner Happy Clapper is currently the second best horse in the country.
The seven-year-old son of Teofilo has returned in career best form this spring, last start delivering Pat Webster his first Group One. Webster said after his Epsom victory, where he carried 57kg, that he knew Happy Clapper would always get better with age. How right the gregarious Randwick-based trainer was.
Blake Shinn has had plenty to do with Happy Clapper throughout his career and has ridden him in his past two outings – when second to Winx in the George Main Stakes and then in his Epsom win a fortnight ago – so does he believe Happy Clapper has legitimate claims as Australia’s second seed?
“Over the mile, definitely. It was pretty evident from the weekend,” Shinn said, referencing Winx’s demolition job in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.
Happy Clapper’s next mission is Saturday’s $500,000 Group Three Craven Plate over 2000m, a journey he has had four tries at for a third and a fifth in Queen Elizabeths, a sixth in a Cox Plate and a Mackinnon ninth.
“His 2000m record, although he hasn’t won, is still pretty good. He’s not going to be meeting horses of the ilk of Winx or those from Queen Elizabeths and Cox Plates,” Shinn said.
“It’s a big drop in grade for him on the weekend and getting back to weight-for-age is going to be a plus. He gets his opportunity to prove himself at 2000m.
“Pat is really happy with the horse after his Epsom win.”
After the Craven Plate, the enticement of tackling another Cox Plate, where although he’ll meet formidable mare Winx again, may be too great for Shinn and Webster to resist with the race shaping to be low on numbers.
“It’s certainly on the radar but we’ll take one step at a time and let’s hope we get over Saturday first. I just hope that he can take that step forward from the Epsom and if he can run a strong 2000m and win, it’d be pretty tempting,” said Shinn.