Australian jockey Sam Clipperton capped off one of his most turbulent weeks in Hong Kong with his sweetest success yet, winning the Group Two Premier Bowl aboard rising star Hot King Prawn.
The 24-year-old, who had ridden just one winner for the season before the dominant victory, paid credit to “loyal supporter” John Size, who has continued to give him rides when many others have looked elsewhere.
Before the Premier Bowl, Size had given Clipperton 86 rides for just two winners (and 15 placings) at a strike rate of three per cent.
“It means a lot to me because it’s my biggest success in Hong Kong so far and it’s great to be able to repay a loyal supporter’s faith,” he said of Size.
“I’ve had a lot of rides for him and I think I have only had two winners for him in the time I have been here but he keeps putting me on.
“I’ve had three Group One seconds for him and he’s taken me to Japan and given me a lot of opportunities so it’s great to be able to get a nice victory under our belts.”
Clipperton was dealt a crushing blow earlier in the week when Derby winner Ping Hai Star broke down during trackwork, ruling him out for the season on the back of the news that Joao Moreira is set to return to Hong Kong as Size’s stable jockey.
The ride on Ping Hai Star was set to be Clipperton’s big break on the biggest day of the season so far when he lined up in the Group Two Sha Tin Trophy (1,600m).
However in a twist of fate, Clipperton was given the ride on Hot King Prawn after fellow jockey Karis Teetan chose to ride Hong Kong Sprint winner Mr Stunning, who ran third behind Fifty Fifty.
Hot favourite Ivictory disappoints but stablemate Hot King Prawn sizzles under a rejuvenated Sam Clipperton in the Premier Bowl, showing brazen speed throughout to beat Fifty Fifty and Mr Stunning in style. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/Vx64XxZWfn— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) October 21, 2018
While many expected stablemate Ivictory to dominate the race, Clipperton said he was more than happy to be on Hot King Prawn after the performance he turned in first-up.
Despite drawing barrier seven with several horses thought to muster speed inside him, Clipperton was able to comfortably lead the field before setting his mount for a dash to the finish line.
Ivictory went on to run last in the race after settling outside Hot King Prawn in running.
“My horse, he just musters so much speed in such a short time out of the barriers that he takes that out of the equation, and that’s what good sprinters do, they make their own luck,” he said.
“We got across the face of the field within 100m out of the barriers, so it was pretty much all over, I was able to throw the brakes on, my horse travelled so strongly out in front and gave a good kick.
“He was very strong to the line and I sensed that they got within a length, I don’t know who it was, I just had my eyes set down this track but I sensed there was a couple within a length of us that obviously used up all their gas just getting to that length, then I pulled away again.”
Group One racing now beckons for Hot King Prawn, who will have to take on the top sprinters at set weights as opposed to handicap conditions.
While Clipperton says his future on the horse has not been discussed, the win puts him in the box seat to keep the ride going forward.
The Australian’s future in Hong Kong is not guaranteed past February, with the Jockey Club only granting him a six-month contract, however he hopes Sunday’s win can help solidify his position in the jockeys’ room.
Hot King Prawn will now head to the Jockey Club Sprint (1,200m) on November 18 before the Longines Hong Kong International Races in December.