His trainer has always thought Happy Clapper would be effective over 2000m, but he didn’t expect to be giving him his first test at the distance in Sydney’s richest race.
Pat Webster focused on the Doncaster Mile with Happy Clapper after the five-year-old sealed a berth via the Villiers Stakes in December but kept him in Saturday’s $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m).
Happy Clapper had two solid weight-for-age performances in the lead-up to the Doncaster and all was going well until Winx was declared a runner.
It took the country’s best horse to beat Happy Clapper last Saturday and Webster said he had come through the experience well.
“I’m happy with the Clapper,” Webster said.
“I wouldn’t back him up unless I was completely happy with him.
“He’s a horse we’ve looked after all through his career and he hasn’t been over-raced.
“I’ve always thought he would get 2000 metres. My one concern is the track. He ran on heavy ground once and didn’t like it but he handled it last Saturday.
“And there’s no Winx this time.”
The Doncaster was run on a track rated a soft (6) which would be the wettest rival trainer Chris Waller wants for Preferment.
“He’s all right on a soft five and even a six but any worse than that is a concern,” Waller said.
“I walked the track on Monday and I was shocked by how much damage there was from Doncaster day.
“I’m grateful that the rail is out.”
Preferment has won two Group One races this autumn, the Australian Cup and the BMW two weeks ago.
“We’re taking him back from 2400 to 2000 metres and it’s just a matter of keeping him fresh,” Waller said.
“He’s been to the beach and he’s done a bit of dressage just to mix it up.”
Preferment, who won the Australian Cup on protest from Awesome Rock, is on the second line of betting at $5 with last year’s winner Criterion behind The United States at $4.60. Happy Clapper is a $15 chance.
With the scratching of Our Ivanhowe, first emergency Awesome Rock gets a start and his presence has been welcomed by Criterion’s co-trainer David Hayes.
“Now that Awesome Rock is in the race I expect him and Rising Romance to go forward and the will make it a truly run race,” Hayes said.
Hayes also trains Rising Romance and Dibayani with the pair at $21 and $35 respectively.
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au