Another milestone for Clipperton as he lifts Chevalier Cup on Gonna Run

First-season rider Sam Clipperton has hit the ground running this term.

Another milestone for Clipperton as he lifts Chevalier Cup on Gonna Run

First-season rider Sam Clipperton has hit the ground running this term.

Gonna Run
Gonna Run Picture:HKJC

The Australian jockey reached another milestone at Sha Tin today (Sunday, 27 November) as he snared his first Class 1 trophy success on Gonna Run in the Chevalier Cup (1600m) as part of a winning double.

A large and lively cheer squad was on hand to will Clipperton home aboard Caspar Fownes-trained Gonna Run (117lb) as he made an inside move to edge out compatriots Brett Prebble and Nash Rawiller. Prebble finished a head second on favourite Solar Hei Hei (117lb), with Rawiller third on topweight Circuit Land (133lb), a further short-head away.

“This is exciting, isn’t it?” said a grinning Clipperton as he briskly strode back to the jockeys’ room after the Chevalier Cup presentation. “My first feature race and hopefully there will be more to come!”

And by the end of the 11-race card, Clipperton had made it a brace as he added a long-overdue win on John Moore-trained People’s Knight in the Class 3 Chevalier Property Development Handicap (1400m).

It was the Chevalier Cup, though, that had the 22-year-old most excited as he lifted his first Class 1 and his first trophy race.

Turning for home in the day’s feature, Prebble made an early move on Solar Hei Hei, racing to the lead at the 300m, but Rawiller was stalking closely on Circuit Land and these two moved away, seemingly to fight the race out.

In the end, it was the late challenge of Gonna Run, who had saved ground throughout under Clipperton, that proved too strong as he snuck up the inside to score. The rider’s enthusiasm was muted at first, though, as he thought he had just been beaten at the hands of Prebble on Solar Hei Hei.

“I thought, ‘Oh no, he’s got me’ and was a bit disappointed,” Clipperton said. “Brett was celebrating and I thought that I’d been just beaten, so I was glad to see the photo had gone my way.”

Pre-race, both jockey and trainer believed that Gonna Run, who arrived in Hong Kong having run fifth to The Grey Gatsby in the G1 Prix du Jockey Club (2100m) among four starts for Jean-Claude Rouget in France, was finally set to deliver on the promise he had always shown.

“I was confident about his chances going in, I thought he was a genuine lightweight chance and Caspar was quite bullish before the race,” Clipperton said. “The draw helped, I had a lovely run, he travelled really well and he was there for me when I needed him, especially as we were going through a couple of tight gaps and making up quite a bit of ground. He’s always been a consistent type, though, he sprints well and today in a strong race he was very impressive and was in for the fight.”

Last season’s Griffin Trophy winner People’s Knight had been considered an emerging talent this time last year, but since his victory in the late-December showpiece for three-year-olds, he had raced nine times for just one placing.

“He’s been nearing a win,” Clipperton said. “His last run was good, I thought he was going to get close but it was dominated from the front. Today he had a good gate – actually, he had a pretty similar run to Gonna Run, so maybe that’s the place to be today.”

The double took Clipperton to 12 wins in a debut season that has already seen the 22-year-old ride winners for eight different trainers. People’s Knight was his fourth winner for Moore, while Gonna Run was his first win at just his third ride for Fownes.

“I actually haven’t had many rides for Caspar, but he was one of the first trainers I met when I arrived,” the 22-year-old said. “And John and I are building a strong professional relationship, I’m doing a lot of trackwork for him and he is giving me plenty of opportunities. Before I arrived, I was told the best way to make an impression was to ride winners for as many trainers as possible and I hope that I can continue to make more connections with other trainers too.”

Rawiller continues strong run after three-timer

While Rawiller may have just been beaten in the Chevalier Cup, he had a stellar day otherwise as he took the 11-race card by storm with a treble.

The revitalised 41-year-old has been a tour de force this season, already building up an impressive haul to sit third on the jockeys’ championship with 23 wins – behind Joao Moreira (45) and Zac Purton (25).

Wins on Look Eras (132lb) in the Class 4 Chevalier Aluminium Engineering Handicap (1400m), Ace King (123lb) in the Class 4 Chevalier Construction Handicap (1000m) and Happy Place (128lb) in the Class 3 Chevalier Lifts & Escalators Handicap (1600m) continued the Australian jockey’s strong recent run of form, while he also had one second and three thirds among his 11 rides.

“Everything’s good at the moment,” Rawiller said. “As I’m going along now I’m starting to get more confidence in who I’m riding for and they are getting more confidence in me and I think it is good for everyone. Generally, when you have confidence to make the snap decision in a race, it is the right one, and I think today there were a couple of races where I backed myself and it paid off.”

Banner brings up first hat-trick of Hong Kong season

The last race, the Class 2 Chevalier Senior Housing Handicap (1400m), saw Ricky Yiu’s Jolly Banner become the first horse to win three races on turf this season as he made it a hat-trick under Chad Schofield.

“He is the most lovely, most honest horse you can imagine, and I think he might be the most consistent horse in Hong Kong,” Schofield said. “He jumps fast, but as soon as you relax your hands on him, he relaxes underneath you. He cruises, but he still has a solid turn of foot too. I said to Ricky, you’d love to have a stable full of them. He helps himself throughout a race, but he has plenty of ability too. He has a big win in him.”

Earlier, Yiu had won the Class 3 Chevalier E & M Engineering Handicap (1200m) with another last-start winner in Happy Agility, the race also providing the first Hong Kong winner for Oisin Murphy.

“It was great to get one win,” Murphy said. “The first win is the hardest, but now I have that I feel like I have proven I can match it here. Obviously I want to win more, but one win feels great.”

Hong Kong racing returns to Happy Valley on Wednesday night, with the first race scheduled for 7:15pm.


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