Sparkling Dragon’s scintillating “jump and run” display lowered the boom on a short-priced favourite and landed some big bets but the jockey who orchestrated the upset says the sprinter is more than just a one-dimensional “speedy squib”.
“He is a lot more than that, I think he has a lot more wins in him and he will be winning in Class Three for sure,” Sam Clipperton said.
Drawn barrier 14 and facing the equal shortest-priced favourite of the day in the form of 1.7 shot Eighty Eighty, Clipperton sprang Sparkling Dragon out of the gates and made all on the heavily punted three-year-old.
Trainer Michael Freedman had instructed Clipperton to utilise the same natural speed Sparkling Dragon showed in his trials but the jockey didn’t expect to find the front so easily.
“I was surprised at how fast he was able to jump,” Clipperton said. “He had showed some good speed in his trials but the way he jumped and led them that easily was a bit unexpected. We had planned to go forward, but not necessarily lead.
“Being a first-starter, I knew he had already showed pace so I wasn’t trying to rev him up – it was a matter of keeping him calm more than anything – and he just did it on his own.
“Once I realised I had them covered I pressed him and was able to make it across and then just rate the horse. The fact that he was able to find the rail within 200 metres of the start meant I was able to dictate terms – he had his ears pricked and he was going to win a long way from home.”
Clipperton said Sparkling Dragon does not have to lead every start and is looking forward to being able to ride the son of O’Reilly with some cover.
“When he starts facing better quality fields he will have to learn to sit in behind them, and with a bunny to chase he will improve again.”
For Freedman the winner marked the first time he has produced a Private Purchase Griffin for a win first-up after scoring with a Private Purchase first-up two weeks ago at Happy Valley.
“This was the first horse I bought,” Freedman said. “We bought him out of a trial in New Zealand and it’s nice to win for this syndicate, they were one of the first groups of people to contact me when I got a licence and they are a lovely bunch.”