The first season success of Sam Clipperton has been one of the stories of 2016-17 and the young Aussie can build on another key relationship when he teams with trainer Tony Millard on World Record in the Siu Ma Shan Handicap.
Clipperton didn’t arrive with the same fanfare many of his compatriots have in the past, but the 23-year-old has impressed from the start with his work ethic, professionalism and poise in the saddle.
None of that matters, however, if the winners don’t flow and Clipperton has already entrenched himself in the top 10 of the jockeys’ championship with 30 wins and will be challenging for a top five spot over the last part of the term.
Also crucial to a jockey’s development is support from big stables and Clipperton’s main source of sustenance so far has been John Moore, the pair combining for 13 winners, including a couple of Class Ones with Invincible Dragon.
Still, reliance on a single stable can be dangerous and in recent months Clipperton has spread his wings, riding winners for a more diverse group of trainers.
One of those associations has been with South African trainer Millard, with whom Clipperton has notched three wins and two placings from his last 12 rides.
With Joao Moreira suspended, Clipperton gets the Class Three ride on World Record, a horse that has won three times already this term but might still have some wiggle room at the ratings.
World Record has found his sweet spot over 1,400m at Sha Tin, and going back to his November breakthrough, has three wins and a second from four starts at the course and distance.
The form out of World Record’s last start win, with horses at long odds finishing behind him, doesn’t look great on paper, but the four-year-old is thriving, is on an upward trajectory and seems more than capable of winning with 126 pounds in Class Three.
A low draw is a huge bonus with the rail out in the C+3, gate two providing Clipperton the chance to replicate the same type of ride that saw the son of Savabeel successful back in November.
The gelding was able to sit closer than usual then, and in a race where the tempo is difficult to predict, he can find an ideal spot in the box seat or three-back on the fence, probably behind Volitation.
Matthew Poon Ming-fai returns after an eventful first day of riding at Sha Tin on March 26 with a strong eight-ride book and the promising newcomer gets a second chance at a win on Penang Hall in the Pottinger Peak Handicap.
Penang Hall, trained by Poon’s boss David Hall, looked to be one of the “Poon Train’s” better rides on his first day but, after a breakthrough win, he was concussed in a pre-race incident and was taken to hospital.
Derek Leung Ka-chun replaced Poon on Penang Hall and the six-year-old won impressively, stepping up to a mile for the first time and beating Citron Spirit by two-and-a-half lengths.
Penang Hall jumped eight points, a significant rehandicap for an exposed horse against limited opposition, but that’s where the beauty of Poon’s 10-pound claim comes into play.
Poon’s claim also comes into play on a number of horses needing some relief at handicaps, including Line Seeker and Mythical Emperor.