The absence of champion mare Winx and the re-application of the blinkers gives veteran galloper Happy Clapper a great chance to add another Group 1 win to his record when he steps out in the Group 1 $500,000 Winx Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Happy Clapper will be having his first run back since finishing fourth to the now retired Winx in the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Day Two of The Championships on April 13 and trainer Pat Webster has elected to put the blinkers back on the nine year old, replacing the winkers.
Webster said that he has no intention for Happy Clapper to follow Winx into retirement and said the old warhorse looks as good ever in the lead up to his return to the racetrack.
“In my mind there’s probably a cloud there with him being nine, but to be honest, he looks as good as he’s ever looked at this stage of his prep and at this time of the year,” Webster told AAP.
“As a matter of fact, he looks better. Even Hugh Bowman said at the trials, ‘mate, how good does he look’.
“Look at old Hartnell, that gives you hope. He ran a terrific race the other day against the Tasmanian mare (Mystic Journey) and he’s nine.”
Happy Clapper has chased Winx home on eleven occasions which includes five placings at Group 1 level.
Ironically, Hugh Bowman, who was the regular rider for Winx throughout her recording breaking reign, will be having his first raceday ride on Happy Clapper but has made himself familiar with the three times Group 1 winner with two recent barrier trials at Randwick.
Happy Clapper has drawn barrier five in the ten horse Winx Stakes and is well in contention in the betting at Ladbrokes,com.au at $4.20.
The James Cummings trained Avilius is the current $3.40 favourite and holds a slight advantage over the Chris Waller trained Verry Elleegant who is the well supported second pick at $3.90.
Betting for the 2019 Winx Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.40 Avilius, $3.90 Verry Elleegant, $4.20 Happy Clapper, $11 Unforgotten, $13 Kings Will Dream, Invincible Gem, $19 Le Romain, $20 Best Of Days, $31 Youngstar, $41 Samadoubt.