Jockey Brenton Avdulla was neither happy nor clapping after the barrier draw for the Group One Epsom Handicap.
That’s because Happy Clapper drew gate one for Saturday’s $1 million race over 1600m at Randwick.
“It’s probably the only draw I didn’t want with him,” Avdulla said.
“I love the Randwick mile but I always prefer to draw wide especially with a horse like him.
“Barrier one is going to be tricky.”
Avdulla said Happy Clapper preferred to have galloping room during races and would need luck on his side.
“I’m going to be midfield the fence doing nothing and just hope things happen from the corner,” Avdulla said.
Happy Clapper went to new heights during autumn.
Only champion mare Winx denied Happy Clapper and Avdualla the Doncaster Mile a week before they finished third in the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Ahead of the horse’s latest tilt at a Group One breakthrough, trainer Pat Webster’s son and popular stable foreman Wayne is battling cancer.
“It’d be pretty special with what Wayne’s going through to get the job done,” Avdulla said.
“He was never an easy horse to train early on.
“Paddy and Wayne have nursed him along the whole way and taken their time with him.”
Le Romain’s jockey Hugh Bowman had the opposite reaction to Avdulla after his horse drew barrier three.
“I won’t need luck getting a nice position so that makes my job a bit easier,” Bowman said.
“I should get a nice run and his form is certainly consistent this time in.”
Gai Waterhouse-trained Fabrizio looks the likely leader in the Epsom from barrier six.
He strung out the field by setting a strong tempo before cruising down the straight to win a 1600 benchmark handicap by four lengths at Randwick on September 17.
“With the way Fabrizio won the other day I expect a pretty genuine speed so everyone should get their chance,” Bowman said.
Fabrizio was the biggest market mover following the barrier draw, coming in from $11 to $8.
Happy Clapper drifted slightly to $8 while Hauraki retained favouritism at $5.50 ahead of Palentino at $6 and McCreery at $6.50.
Hauraki drew barrier 10, Palentino has gate nine and McCreery has four.
Godolphin’s Australian managing director Henry Plumptre said the barrier would be no problem for Hauraki.
“Especially the way Hauraki is going, he’s thrived during this preparation,” Plumptre said.
“(Trainer) John (O’Shea) clearly made the right decision to keep him to the shorter trips this time in.”