Clipperton on the charge
In-form jockey bags treble in HK, after success in Australia
The success of Sam Clipperton has been one of the main storylines of the current Hong Kong racing season and the plot developed further after the freshman Australian rider scored a treble at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Clipperton returned from a hit-and-run trip to his native Sydney, where he rode a Group 3 winner and was just nosed out in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1,500m) on Saturday, and he bounced back into Hong Kong racing with a bang, taking two of the first three races - both for trainer Tony Millard.
He won the Class 5 Snapdragon Handicap (1,650m) on ATOMIC BLAST and the first section of the Class 4 Oncidium Handicap (1,400m) on BOLD STITCH, before adding the Class 2 Cymbidium Handicap (1,650m) on John Moore-trained PEOPLE'S KNIGHT.
"It's been a whirlwind 24 hours, that's for sure," said Clipperton.
"But to ride winners in both Australia and Hong Kong over a weekend, that's a dream and I can't believe how this season keeps progressing. I'm very happy at the moment.
The hat-trick took him to equal fourth in the jockeys' championship on 29 wins, alongside another former Sydney rider Nash Rawiller.
Moore was especially effusive in his praise for Clipperton, saying the 23-year-old has maturity and ability well beyond his years.
"He's been part of the team since Day One," said Moore.
"When Tommy (Berry) rang me and told me he was coming here, he told me you wouldn't find a nicer boy. And, when I watched him in Sydney yesterday, he asked me for my opinion and I told him that I thought he rode great. He would have won the Group 1 if he had drawn a gate and he was only just beaten by Tye Angland's ride.
"I always think that you gain confidence riding up here in Hong Kong. There have been so many young jockeys that we see come here and ride well and then they go back home and they are better riders, they are sharper and they have a greater appreciation of different styles.
"I think we saw that, with Sam yesterday, although I hope that he is here for a while yet - he is very talented."
Moore confirmed that Clipperton would not ride Booming Delight, whom he has partnered to three wins this season, in the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2,000m) with Ryan Moore jetting in to take the mount.
But he revealed that Clipperton would now be aboard Group 1 Queensland Derby (2,400m) runner-up Rodrico in the race for four-year-olds.
However, he has also booked the rider for a prized mount on the undercard.
"He will ride Able Friend next weekend," Moore confirmed, with the 2014/15 Horse of the Year to join Helene Paragon, Dashing Fellow and Invincible Dragon in a Class 1 handicap over 1,400m.
"Joao (Moreira) will ride Invincible Dragon, and Sam is a valuable part of the team, so I'm happy to have him on Able Friend."
People's Knight provided Clipperton with his 13th winner for Moore, the rider having scored on the Exceed And Excel four-year-old twice in a week late last year. And the trainer believes that the horse may have found his niche on the surface.
"On breeding, it always looked like he would enjoy the dirt," said Moore.
"The Exceed And Excels go OK on the dirt, but he's out of a Dehere mare. The way he accelerated there, he clearly loves it, so I'll just keep him to this course and distance I think until I'm forced to look elsewhere." - HKJC