Berry rewarded for answering Clapper SOS

By: Mandy Cottell Thursday 17 October 2019

An act of goodwill by jockey Tommy Berry has landed him the plum mount on favourite Happy Clapper in the Group Three Craven Plate at Randwick.

Rival Hugh Bowman was due to partner Happy Clapper in a barrier trial last month but broke his finger in a trackwork mishap and was unable to ride.

In stepped Berry, much to the relief of trainer Pat Webster, who has rewarded the hoop with the Craven Plate (2000m) mount at Randwick on Saturday.

"Tommy stood up when Hughie broke his thumb," Webster said.

"He rang me and said, 'no obligation but I'll ride in the trial' and he only couldn't ride him in the George Main because he had another ride."

Happy Clapper has not raced since his third behind Avilius and Dreamforce in the George Main, an effort which followed another Group One placing when first up in the Winx Stakes.

While he is yet to win at the Craven Plate distance, he was narrowly beaten in the corresponding race in 2017 and he did place behind Winx over the course and trip in the 2018 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

With Cascadian and Maid Of Ore early scratchings, Happy Clapper will have seven rivals and Webster says the $500,000 race shapes as an ideal target.

"It's Group One prize money in a Group Three and that's the whole idea isn't it?" Webster said.

"Keep yourself in the best company and your horse in the worst. Although, I have a bit of trouble doing that."

Happy Clapper just held market sway on Thursday ahead of Winx Stakes winner Samadoubt and last-start Hill Stakes placegetter Life Less Ordinary.

Webster believes Happy Clapper has been racing as though he is looking for a longer trip and says the month between runs will ensure the nine-year-old heads to Randwick with fresh legs.

I have been happy with both his runs. First up, even though he was a bit podgy, he was probably looking for 1500 rather than 1400 and the other day he was looking for 2000 rather than the 1600," Webster said.

"He is fitter now and he looks beautiful. It is the best he has ever looked in his whole life."