Sam Clipperton has been the quiet achiever of the jockey ranks this season but could make some noise today at Sha Tin with upsets against more fancied rivals.
Clipperton has chipped away for nine wins at a healthy strike rate of 13 per cent so far this term, good enough for seventh in the jockeys’ championship, but only one win away from equal fifth-placed Chad Schofield and Matthew Poon Ming-fai.
The Sa Sa Ladies’ Day undercard features a number of rising starts including Fifty Fifty, Pingwu Spark, Hot King Prawn and first-starter Conte, but Clipperton will be out to play spoiler against all of them.
“I’ve got some interesting rides, perhaps not leading contenders in the market – but they are chances,” Clipperton said.
The Paul O’Sullivan-trained Jolly Jolly clashes with Fifty Fifty and Pingwu Spark in the Class Two Elizabeth Arden Handicap (1,400m).
“Jolly Jolly is definitely the forgotten horse in his race, everybody is talking about not only Fifty Fifty and Pingwu Spark, but Sacred Elixir as well,” Clipperton said. “Jolly Jolly is such a consistent horse.”
Indeed, Jolly Jolly may have only won four races over the last two-and-a-half years but the six-year-old has missed a place just five times in 21 starts during that period.
“And you’ve only got to look at the horses he has placed behind to see how consistent he is – Seasons Bloom, Booming Delight, Western Express and Nothingilikemore – but he gets his chance to go one better here,” Clipperton said.
A last start second behind Nothingilikemore was the second time Jolly Jolly has run into the unbeaten four-year-old and his closing effort caught the eye after Zac Purton was forced to settle back in the field from a wide gate.
“He just seems to have no luck at the barrier draw and we have barrier eight this time, which means he will be midfield or just back from there, and hitting the line again.”
Clipperton isn’t as hopeful of causing an upset as Michael Freedman’s import California Archer makes his local debut against Hot King Prawn in the Class Three L’Oreal Paris Handicap (1,000m) but still expects a forward showing from the four-year-old.
Lameness saw California Archer scratched from what would have been his first-up run three weeks ago.
Since then the gelding trialled poorly on the dirt and Freedman was granted permission to apply blinkers, the same gear the horse wore when winning two-from-two in Australia.
“He had trialled very well up the straight, but then back on the dirt, well, he is a bit of a quirky horse, with a temperament, and I don’t think he appreciated the kickback – he put the white flag up a little bit,” Clipperton said. “If he steps clean, he has some speed – I won’t be going out to lead – but as long as he is well placed in the run then he will be in the finish I think.”
Clipperton has two solid chances for Manfred Man Ka-leung, including last start winner E Master and in-form sprinter Red Elysees.
E Master carries top weight in a race where Conte is likely to start pronounced favourite after some impressive trials but Clipperton said the Class Four Revlon Handicap (1,200m) could be a more even race than most expect.
“Luck in the running will play a big part,” Clipperton said. “E Master has more of a challenge with the big weight but he was impressive and dug deep on debut.”
Clipperton believes drawing barrier one could make all the difference for Red Elysees in the Class Four Kose Cosmeport Handicap (1,400m).
“I’m not sure we will necessarily take advantage of the barrier and try and be too handy, but maybe he can be one or two lengths closer in the run, and that’s been about the beaten margin at his first two starts this preparation. I have a lot to do with him in the mornings and his work has been very good.”