One of Sydney’s rising stars, Sam Clipperton, will take up the Hong Kong challenge next season, joining the Sha Tin jockey colony for the first three months of the new season.
Following the licensing committee’s surprise decision last month to override a management recommendation to license another Australian, Blake Shinn, the roster was left thin on numbers for the start of the new term in September and Clipperton, 22, has gained the vacancy as a club jockey, technically licensed from July 11 to December 3, but he will start race riding on September 3.
Sitting fourth on the Sydney premiership table, Clipperton was champion junior in 2012-13 and 2013-14 when apprenticed to former top jockey and Group One winning trainer Ron Quinton, who also had an influential role in Hugh Bowman’s early development.
With more than 350 race wins to his credit, Clipperton made big advances during the Sydney autumn feature racing this year, landing his first two Group One victories.
He has ridden a great deal for the Godolphin operation in Sydney, but said he was thrilled to accept the offer to come to Hong Kong.
“It’s a great privilege even to be asked and I took it straight away. It’s an opportunity I certainly wasn’t going to turn down,” said Clipperton yesterday.
“I was very excited and chatted to my family about it, and they were excited for me and very supportive. It has always been a dream of mine to get over there and ride on the world stage.”
Clipperton said leaving for Hong Kong was an easy decision, even though it would largely rule him out of the big spring carnival of racing in Australia at that time.
“It’s always a big decision to pack up and leave, but Sydney will always be here for me, so I thought it would be silly to knock it back,” he said.
“I know it’s tough and very competitive, but I’m very much prepared to work hard and just hope I can have a bit of luck.”
Clipperton, who rides 115 pounds, said he would be drawing on the previous Hong Kong experience and contacts of fellow Sydney-based riders Tommy Berry and Tim Clark, but knows it is up to him to make the licence work.
“I will come over with my girlfriend a month before the season starts, just so we can settle in, have a look around and get used to the place that will be our new home. I want to be there for the long haul,” he said.
“Obviously, I’ll be riding plenty of track work and trials, and just trying to give myself every opportunity to get a good start.”