Sam Clipperton is relishing his first trip to Japan and he hopes to make it a winning one when he partners Western Express in Sunday’s Group One Yasuda Kinen.
With Hugh Bowman suspended, Clipperton got the late call-up to ride John Size’s five-year-old in Tokyo and is out to make the most of it.
“I’ve never been to Japan before, and what I’ve seen so far it’s everything I could have expected – it’s amazing. It’s very exciting, it’s good exposure being here and it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to ride,” he said.
“They’re amazing facilities and the big track will suit our horse. Whatever the result, it’s an amazing opportunity and I’m looking forward to the experience.
“I’ll arrive quite early on Sunday and watch a few races, and I’m riding a horse for Mr. [Noriyuki] Hori in the last race, so that’s quite exciting as well, I’m very grateful for these opportunities.”
Clipperton has been aboard for Western Express’ two Group One seconds – first in the Hong Kong Mile and then in the Champions Mile.
“He’s a very honest horse, he’s strong and I think the pace of Japanese racing will suit him, so all things being equal I think he’ll run a very good race,” he said.
Size has been happy with how Western Express has travelled across and thinks he deserves a chance in this company.
“He showed me in December that he was good enough for this race and when he repeated that performance last start he confirmed the impression,” Size said.
“He’s had 10 races this season but because of his constitution he’s able to handle that, he’s a strong boy, he has strength within himself and seems to be able to cope, so far – he’s bigger than your average horse. He’s normally very honest and does his best, any energy he’s got he’ll use it.”
Western Express has drawn barrier seven for the feature and the trainer expects him to settle in the back half of the field.
“He seems to run his best races when the overall time is fast,” said Size, who is having a crack at the Yasuda Kinen for the 10th time.
“He doesn’t appreciate a slow tempo but the speed’s usually pretty solid in this race – when I’ve been here before, even when, on paper, there’s been a distinct lack of pace, on race day it hasn’t happened that way.”
The Yasushi Shono-trained Suave Richard is the one to beat after winning the Osaka Hai in April.