A piece of form surrounding Winx has ensured Happy Clapper of Epsom Handicap favouritism.
But rival jockey Brenton Avdulla insists another link to the champion mare shouldn’t be forgotten and that’s why the Epsom might not be as clear-cut as the betting suggests.
Happy Clapper was promoted to the top of Epsom markets after finishing second to Winx in the George Main Stakes.
However, Avdulla said his mount Red Excitement deserves as much respect as Happy Clapper after pushing Winx in the Chelmsford Stakes.
Red Excitement built a significant lead in the Chelmsford before Winx reeled in him late.
In-form trainer Gerald Ryan contemplated lining up Red Excitement in the Hill Stakes but instead opted for the Epsom at Randwick on Saturday after he was allotted 53.5kg, a 5.5kg reduction from weight-for-age to handicap conditions.
Avdulla first rode Red Excitement in autumn 2013 and reunites with the seasoned competitor for the first time since the Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) in late 2015.
“He’s kept raising the bar, he nearly beat Winx,” Avdulla said.
He described Red Excitement’s bid to upstage Winx with Josh Parr as a career peak and may have explained the veteran’s run in the George Main when he beat only one horse home.
“I thought he might have just felt the edge and been found wanting a little bit,” Avdulla said.
Happy Clapper ($3) and second elect Egg Tart ($5.50) dominate Epsom charts.
But Egg Tart needs a veterinary clearance as she battles to recover from an eye irritation.
“This is a winnable Epsom. It’s not overly strong and Gerald’s team’s obviously flying, you probably couldn’t ask for a better stable to ride for at the moment,” Avdulla said.
Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller has already amassed $2.3 million in prize money this season, from 173 runners.
Ryan is next on the NSW standings with $1.6 million from 44 starters – a ratio boosted Trapeze Artist’s surprise win in the Golden Rose.
Though Happy Clapper and Egg Tart were form horses, Avdulla said there were reasons why they can be beaten.
“Happy Clapper’s got to back-up (from the George Main) and Egg Tart is second-up off a (Theo Marks) run where the tempo was fast.
“My bloke is rock-hard fit.”
Bjorn Baker scratched Embley on Wednesday to line-up in the Group Two Hills Stakes (1800m) and Lindsay Park will keep He’s Our Rokkii for Sunday’s Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield to reduce the Epsom field to 12.