Second prize money in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes is still tempting enough for trainer Pat Webster and owner Michael Thomas to back Happy Clapper up against Winx.
And there’s always the dream mare on an off-day although she hasn’t had one for some time. Saturday’s meeting is the second anniversary of the last time Winx was beaten when second to Gust Of Wind in the Australian Oaks.
Happy Clapper finished second to her in last year’s Doncaster and had to settle for second again in the same race on Saturday when It’s Somewhat led all the way and held him off by 0.50 lengths.
Although disappointed, Webster said as long as Happy Clapper did well over the next couple of days, he would be there in the $4 million Queen Elizabeth trying to improve on his third to Lucia Valentina last year.
“Definitely, all being well, he will line up in the 2000m race,” Webster said. “He ran third in it last year. He’s in great form and there’s no reason not to run.”
Trainer Chris Waller took Winx to Randwick on Saturday to give her a day out ahead of the Queen Elizabeth for which she is the $1.15 favourite with Luxbet to claim her 17th consecutive win.
The race day outings have become part of Winx’s routine leading up to major races and Waller believes they do as much for the humans around her as the mare herself.
“It just helps blow the cobwebs out,” he said. “It’s important for her to have a trip away from the stable. It’s important for the strappers and everyone looking after her right down to the truck driver.
“The last thing I want is the driver getting nervous because he has Winx in the back of the float.” So far the most challenging part of Winx’s latest preparation has been Sydney’s wet March.
“It has been touch and go a couple of times whether she ran on the heavy tracks,” Waller said. After much soul-searching on the day of the Chipping Norton Stakes, Waller made the call to run her and she duly won the Group 1 race. Winx handled the same conditions again in the George Ryder Stakes but prospects are good that she will have an improved surface on Saturday with the weather expected to be clear for most of the week. – www.justhorseracing.co.au
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