Gilt-edged chance for Clapper
HAPPY Clapper is left with only nine opponents and a giltedged opportunity to finally break through at Group 1 level in the $1 million TAB Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick today.
The scratchings of second favourite Egg Tart, I Am A Star, Embley and He’s Our Rokkii has reduced the Epsom field to just 10 starters — the smallest since Racing To Win also won a 10-horse Epsom in 2006.
There hasn’t been a smaller field contest an Epsom since 1878 when Viscount beat only six rivals. And it’s a far cry from the biggest Epsom field on re- cord — 38 starters in 1913 when Alceconner won.
The Pat Webster-trained Happy Clapper, who will come out of barrier two after the scratchings, has now firmed into $2.60 favourite with and could even start shorter on track.
Form expert Nathan Snow from Champions Bets con- ceded “there is definitely a different feel about the Epsom this year”.
“A less-than-capacity field, but also a field with limited winning chances and a long tail to it, which makes it unlike most of the big Randwick mile races,’’ Snow said.
“I think the race should be run at an average tempo with Red Excitement likely leading but with Sound Proposition, Comin’ Through and Foxplay drawn wide gates pushing forward to keep it honest.
“But this makes Happy Clapper clear top pick for me. ’’
Snow said Happy Clapper has superbly handled throughout its career by Webster, who has been able to improve the seven-year-old gelding every preparation.
“Happy Clapper trialled really well as always before resuming with an outstanding win, sprinting fast off a slow pace to beat Tom Melbourne,’’ Snow said of Happy Clapper’s Tramway Stakes win.
“Then second up, he gave Winx the race of her life.”