Clipperton seeking second Gold aboard quirky Cruz galloper at Happy Valley
Sam Clipperton hopes that he can maintain his winning record aboard Tony Cruz-trained Gold Land when the four-year-old steps out in the Class 3 Japan Racing Association Trophy (1650m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
Gold Land (130lb) has had a different jockey up top at each of his 10 starts in Hong Kong, but only Clipperton has managed to score aboard the Danehill Dancer gelding. That win came on 11 October in another Class 3 over Wednesday night’s course and distance.
“He had every chance when I rode him two back and only just won,” Clipperton said at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning (14 November). “He had a good barrier and a soft run. He’s a quirky horse, he’s not easy to ride. He’s still very new and very raw, he’ll be better this time next season but in saying that, he has a lot of ability and when he does put things together, he’s certainly got enough to win a couple of races.”
Gold Land (No. 4) held off Dr Win Win to win a Class 3 event over 1650m at his penultimate start, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Last start, Gold Land ended up at the rear after being bumped heavily at the start with Umberto Rispoli in the plate. He finished 10th that day at Happy Valley’s sole afternoon race meeting of the year, almost four lengths behind Thunder Stomp, but Clipperton says it is an effort best forgiven.
“He’s the type who needs things to go his way, he doesn’t cop it when something goes wrong,” the rider said. “He’s got a barrier where he can get a similar run to what he did when he won. He’s up against a competitive field – Victory Boys is honest, so is Red Marvel, Dr Win Win won last start but Gold Land actually beat him when he won.
“It’s a competitive race but at least we’ll be around the right horses, we’ll be midfield or a bit better. If he does things right, he can run well.”
Thunder Stomp (120lb) steps up in class for his first Class 2 run in the night’s closer, the Tokyo Handicap (1650m). The Fastnet Rock five-year-old has won two of his four starts this season, with seven-pound apprentice Dylan Mo having his first race ride on Me Tsui’s galloper.
He meets a competitive field that includes Thunder Stomp’s stablemate Divine Boy (123lb), John Size-trained Big Bang Bong (122lb) and last-start placegetters Beauty Prince (119lb) and Lucky Girl (119lb).
The Class 3 Japan Racing Association Trophy (1650m) comes up at 10.15pm, with the Class 2 Tokyo Handicap (1650m) ending the card at 10.50pm. The opener, the Class 5 Fukushima Handicap (1000m), begins the meeting at 7.15pm.