Sydney trainer Pat Webster will saddle up Happy Clapper for a second year in a row in the Group 1 $3m Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on Saturday and is excited to be caught up in the Winx phenomenon.
“When I got my trainer’s licence I thought to have a runner in the Cox Plate I would be lucky. Two years in a row and have D Oliver on him, I’m excited,” Webster told racing.com.
The Chris Waller trained Winx is shooting for her third consecutive Ladbrokes Cox Plate victory and is the dominant $1.16 favourite with Ladbrokes.com.au, but Webster said that Damien Oliver will ride the race to suit $26 chance Happy Clapper.
Webster was also pleased that he was able to engage champion jockey Damien Oliver to ride Happy Clapper, replacing Blake Shinn who has been aboard the seven year old at his last three starts, including a win two starts back in the Group 1 $1m Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on September 30.
“You have to ride the race to suit the horse. He has D Oliver on board and I couldn’t imagine telling D Oliver what to do and I am not going to,” Webster said.
“He is the best in the business, I am just privileged to have him on and I am privileged to be here part of the Cox Plate for the second year in a row.”
Webster said that Happy Clapper has had a better preparation this year than he had leading into last year’s Cox Plate when he finished eleven lengths behind Winx in sixth position.
“He had a major setback last year and was even lucky to get to the track,” Webster said.
“A matter of fact we were saying it was touch and go if he lived. It was in the early part even before he had a run that prep so he was behind the eight ball all of the time.”
“So for him to run sixth in the Cox Plate last year was a mighty effort.”
“This year he hasn’t had a setback and he has been running really good and we are happy with him.”
Happy Clapper broke through for his maiden Group 1 win in the Epsom Handicap after several placing at the highest level and will head into the Ladbrokes Cox Plate on the back of a last start second to the front running Classic Uniform in the Group 3 $500,000 Aqualand Craven Plate (2000m) at Randwick on October 14.