Pat Webster and Josh Adams have applauded each other after Happy Clapper made a stylish return to racing in the Tramway Stakes at Randwick.
While the seven-year-old gelding’s strong finish, which earned a ballot exemption for the Group One Epsom Handicap (1600m) later this month, drew plaudits, his trainer and jockey also emerged with credit on Saturday.
Webster, who dovetails training with mentoring work for jockeys through Racing NSW, swiftly paid tribute to Adams who overcame drug issues to return to riding this year.
“He rewarded me, he has from the first day we met,” Webster said, after Happy Clapper ($5.50) beat Tom Melbourne ($6) by three-quarters of a length.
“We’ve gone through a little trip and it’s been good. It was a great win and great ride.”
An emotional Adams, who made a timely return from suspension for Saturday’s meeting, thanked the veteran horseman, and not just for the booking.
“It’s lovely to be able to repay someone who’s shown faith in me from the time I came I came back,” he said.
“Even before I came he helped me get my licence. We went down to Racing NSW and got my licence back.”
Racing for the first time since the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in April, Happy Clapper powered home out wide to catch Tom Melbourne while $3.90 favourite Invincible Gem was 1-1/4 lengths third.
“I was very confident once I got into a spot where he could relax, but still travel,” Adams said.
“He actually surprised me, I think he’s in for a big prep.”
The Epsom over the mile at Randwick on September 30 is the goal this campaign and Adams thought Happy Clapper was capable of improving on a fourth in last year’s edition.
“I don’t think that’s out of his reach at his best. To me, that was his best first-up run,” he said.
Webster said he would have been happy to run in the first four, and jokingly hoped the handicappers would also underrate the run before allocating weights for the Epsom.
“I hope the handicapper realises he didn’t win that well. It might be a run that flattens him too,” he said.