After enduring the heartbreak of five Group One seconds in the space of 12 months, jockey Sam Clipperton reckons he is “about due” for a breakthrough.
The talented jockey will jump aboard the John Size-trained D B Pin on Sunday in the Group One Centenary Sprint (1,200m) after being runner-up in the Hong Kong Sprint on international day last month.
The Australian has endured a tough run of late, with his rides all but drying up since the arrival of Size’s stable jockey Joao Moreira, so he has learned to cherish the good ones he does get.
Since the start of December, Clipperton has had just 24 rides with only four starting single-figure odds in the market.
The irony is not lost on Clipperton that his best winning chances have come in the big races, having ridden Size’s boom sprinter Hot King Prawn earlier in the season before being shifted to D B Pin.
“It’s nice to go to the races with a genuine chance in a Class Four, let alone a Group One, lately that’s what has been happening to me,” he said.
“The few chances that I have got have been in Group Ones or Group Twos, it’s funny how it works. I’m not getting a lot of opportunities but I am getting them off [trainers] John Size and Paul O’Sullivan.”
While Clipperton has tasted Group One success twice in Australia, he believes the recent run of seconds has made him more hungry to win again.
“Since I have had these seconds it has given me a taste, usually those things are reserved for when you have been here a few years and well established,” he said. “It has given me a realisation that I can do this here and I am riding for the right trainer.
“I have been very lucky to ride for John Size, which has been huge to my career and he has faith in me and puts me on in big races.”
Even with his rides drying up dramatically since his breakthrough 2016-2017 season where he rode 40 winners in 503 rides, Clipperton said he wasn’t one to think “what might have been” had he managed to win a Group One.
“To be honest I would still be in the situation I am in, getting no rides,” he said. “At first running second in the Group One’s gave me a bit of a buzz because they haven’t been unlucky, but after a while it gets to the point where it is frustrating.”
Clipperton was not always certain to have the ride on the horse, with Moreira tasked to decide between Beat The Clock and D B Pin after he trialled them both last week.
With Moreira selecting Beat The Clock, Clipperton said he was excited about the prospect of riding the talented galloper again.
D B Pin goes into the race as the defending champion, having won it last year under Olivier Doleuze.
“He’s proven himself as a genuine Group One horse, he won this race convincingly last year, he sat three deep,” he said.
“He was actually ridden beautifully, he was deep but he kept him balanced. The most important thing is that he responded to that, which gives me confidence because the horse is versatile and from all reports he has improved again since the international run, which naturally he would because he was only second-up.”
With fellow Size gallopers Hot King Prawn and Ivictory out of the race, it will be a very different affair to last month’s Hong Kong Sprint, with no clear leader in the eight-horse field.