Sam Clipperton’s international day bookings have been boosted by the ride on Robin Of Navan in the HK$25 million Group One Longines Hong Kong Cup after the talented young jockey was recommended to connections.
Clipperton was already down to ride Western Express in the Mile and Helene Charisma in the Vase but Robin Of Navan now gives the 23-year-old his first chance in Hong Kong’s richest race.
“We needed a good jockey so we asked around and a few people said Sam could do a good job for us,” trainer Harry Dunlop said at trackwork.
Robin Of Navan was second in the Premio Roma late last year and a narrow second in this year’s Group One Prix d’Ispahan at Chantilly confirmed the four-year-old was starting to fulfil the potential he showed as a juvenile.
“He ran a super race there at Chantilly, he was only beaten a nose,” Dunlop said. “He was a very good two-year-old but then had a few issues that held him back. We have sorted those issues out and he has had a very good year.”
Even though the Cup will be the colt’s eighth run of the year and is somewhat of an afterthought in terms of preparation, Dunlop is putting faith in his charge’s ability to consistently run to his international rating of 114.
“He is a horse that seems to be able to run to a level each time around that 112 mark,” he said. “It hasn’t been our aim to be here because we didn’t know if we were going to get invited. He was a little quiet the first day he arrived but now he is back on his feed and very happy.”
The race will also mark a horse-on-horse “best of three” decider with French-trained visitor Galingari, who Robin Of Navan defeated in the Group Three La Coupe at Chantilly before being beaten by the same horse at Prix Dollar at the same track.
“It’s a rematch but we are well aware that this is a race with a lot of very good horses,” Dunlop said.
One advantage Robin Of Navan has is some tactical versatility but Dunlop was holding his cards close to his chest before Thursday’s draw.
“Let’s see what barrier he gets, but he has made the running before and he can be ridden quite positively, we won’t want to be too far back,” he said.