Sam Clipperton has earned a reputation as a punter’s pal with long-priced winners over the past 14 months and he will be out to cause two more upsets on Western Express and Southern Legend on Sunday at Sha Tin.
Clipperton notched his 50th winner last weekend when Sparkling Dragon rolled hot favourite Eighty Eighty, the type of against-the-odds winner the jockey has become renowned for.
Just nine of the jockey’s 50 winners were favourites and the Australian’s victories have come at an average price of $13.70, so it’s no surprise that the underdog status of his rides on Sunday doesn’t worry Clipperton.
“They’re both on an upward spiral and sometimes those are the types of horses you want to be on in these races,” he said.
Clipperton has seen plenty of Western Express from behind – chasing the young miler home on a number of occasions – so was thrilled to get the call up from trainer John Size after Joao Moreira stuck with Seasons Bloom in the Group Two Jockey Club Mile.
Western Express will be backing up a week after a narrow win in the Panasonic Cup and a good performance will put the five-year-old in the frame for a start in the Group One Hong Kong Mile on December 10.
“It was a good, tough win the other day. He never seems to win his races by much but he’s always shown a lot of heart, digs deep, and he’s obviously a very good horse,” Clipperton said.
“He’s going to be racing against proven top-class horses like Helene Paragon and Beauty Only, but Western Express definitely deserves his shot. I’m thankful to Mr Size for giving me the chance. I’m very lucky to be riding him. He’s an improving type, he’s a bit similar to Southern Legend.”
Southern Legend’s rating hit triple figures after an impressive last start win at Happy Valley but the five-year-old is the lowest-rated runner in the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint and obviously not favoured by the set weights and penalties conditions.
Trainer Caspar Fownes admits it is a case of throwing Southern Legend in the deep end and he is managing expectations with a horse who has won two from five since arriving at Sha Tin.
“I’ve seen it many times before where horses in the low hundreds can come out and produce a shock result,” Fownes said.
“I’m not expecting that at this stage but we can always dream. To be honest, I’d be disappointed if he doesn’t run midfield in a race like this, against horses that are far higher rated than him. So I’m looking for a nice performance with promise for the future.
“He’s done nothing wrong since he’s been here. He’s going the right way, he’s heading up in the ratings, so now is our chance to see where we stand. If he runs a bottler, we might think about going towards the internationals, but if not, we’ll certainly look at the 1,400m Class One on international day – that race would be perfect for him.”