Daily News Wrap

6 min read

Happy return as Mile remains on radar

Happy Clapper (Teofilio {Ire}) remains on target for the All-Star Mile at Flemington next month after his second behind Winx (Street Cry {Ire}) in Saturday's G2 Apollo S.

The 8-year-old may have suffered his ninth defeat by the mighty mare but trainer Pat Webster was rapt with what he saw.

“Our preparation has been tailored around the All-Star Mile, he is set for the race,” Webster told racing.com.

“Look I was happy with his run yesterday, he was probably a little fresh, he got a little keen but he put in a good fight and the mare was too good."

“He hadn’t raced since September last year so I’m expecting he should come on again next start and then hopefully peak when we get to Melbourne.”

Happy Clapper was outside the Top 10 when voting for the All-Star Mile went into blackout mode. But even if he misses the automatic fan-voted entry to the race, the three-time Group 1 winner would appear to be a in a good place to get one of the four wildcard spots for the $5m race.

“It would be great if we get enough votes and then don’t have to worry about a wildcard but I’d like to think he would be highly considered given his record,” Webster said.

Currie hearing to proceed on Monday

Ben Currie's show cause hearing at the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission is set to proceed on Monday despite a bid by his legal team to prevent it from going ahead.

Currie was issued with a show cause notice on Friday after the Toowoomba-based trainer was hit with seven fresh charges including several for the use of jiggers.

Ben Currie

He already faces 28 charges from a raid on his stables in April last year and four unrelated positive swab charges.

He is also banned by the Brisbane Racing Club from attending Doomben and Eagle Farm race meetings until charges against him are resolved.

His legal team has sought to postpone the show cause hearing ahead of Monday, but it appears to have been unsuccessful.

Belle and Texas off to Randwick

Lucciola Belle (Casino Prince) booked her place in for $500,000 final of the Country Championships in April with her win in the $150,000 Mid North Coast Country Championship Qualifier at Port Macquarie

Trainer Wayne Wilkes was delighted with the win of his consistent mare, who is now confirmed for the big race at Randwick on April 6.

“(Andrew Gibbons) Gibbo rode her a treat. She got shuffled back early and he just stuck to the fence,” Wilkes told Sky Racing. “He prayed for a few gaps and he got them and she’s finished off like a bonny mare."

“I’m extremely proud of her.”

Texas Storm (All American) also booked his spot by running second for trainer Bob Milligan and jockey Matthew Bennell.

Short-priced favourite Awesome Pluck (Pluck {USA}) finished third.

Olympic legend takes on Group 1 challenge

Eminent's (Ire) (Frankel {GB)) bid for Group 1 glory in Australia will be spearheaded by Sir Mark Todd, New Zealand’s greatest Olympic eventer.

The European Group 2 winner, who was fifth in the G1 Prince of Wales' S. at Royal Ascot last year, is owned by New Zealand Bloodstock principal Sir Peter Vela.

He will be prepared by Todd in his Sydney campaign which is likely to head towards the G1 Ranvet S. at the G1 Queen Elizabeth S.

Sir Mark Todd

“They sent him to me to do something with before going to New Zealand, and then I got a phone call, saying they were thinking of taking him to Australia to run in a couple of races before retiring. ‘And we want you to do it!’ they said," Todd told horseandhound.co.uk.

"I had a think about it – and I can never resist a challenge! I’ve had to take out my training licence in a hurry. The plan is to run him in two Group Ones over 2000m in Sydney – the Ranvet Stakes on March 23 and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on April 13, although he does have an entry in the Doncaster Mile (G1, 1600m) as well as an insurance.”

Todd has previous success as a trainer earlier this century, winning the G1 NZ Oaks and G1 Wellington Cup before returning to equestrian in 2008. He is a two-time Olympic gold medallist.

Very high aims after good return

Trainer Chris Waller harbours Group 1 aims for Verry Elleegant (NZ) (Zed {NZ}) after her fast-finishing second on return in the G3 Vanity at Flemington on Saturday.

The former New Zealand filly, having her first start for Waller after having transferred from Darren Weir, impressed in The Vanity, charging home to finish just behind former stablemate Amphitrite (Sebring).

Waller has suggested that the G1 Vinery Stud S. at Rosehill next month could be a good target for Verry Elleegant.

Jockey James McDonald was impressed with his first ride on her.

“Gee she’s very strong, if she did everything right with her manners, she could be a serious horse,” McDonald said.

She is a winner of three of her eight starts, including the G3 Ethereal S. at Caulfield in the spring.

USA News: Wide Post Not a Problem for War of Will in Risen Star

War of Will (USA) (War Front) continued his march towards the first Saturday in May with another powerful performance in Saturday’s G2 Risen Star S. at Fair Grounds.

He broke sharply and secured a perfect stalking position in second behind strong early fractions then made his way to the front, kicked for home in complete command and kept on finding down the lane to score by 2 1/4 lengths.

Country House (USA) (Lookin At Lucky) made a valiant run while lugging in repeatedly to finish a strong second, Longshot Roiland (USA) (Successful Appeal) was up for third.

“For a big horse, he has tremendous speed,” trainer Mark Casse said of War of Will. “He had to hit the gas a little to get over, so that got him a little riled up. When he gets the lead, he starts wandering. If he keeps winning, there will be some big targets for him to chase.”

The Risen Star victory gave War of Will 50 qualifying points on Churchill Downs’ Road to the Kentucky Derby. He is now atop the leaderboard with 60 points. Casse said that the G2 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby March 23 would likely be next.

War of Will, now a perfect three-for-three on dirt, was second in the grassy GI Summer S. and a close fifth in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last term as a maiden.

Vale Stuart Hinks

Queensland racing is mourning the loss of trainer Stuart Hinks, who has died at age 73 after a long illness.

The Ipswich-based trainer was active for 40 years training the likes of Luskin Knight (Luskin Star), Jolly Bacon (Francis Bacon {Ire}), Jayelem (Youthful Legs {USA}) and Blushing Blonde (NZ) (Pompeii Court {USA}).

Jayelem was his last winner in May 2014.

Ipswich Turf Club chief executive Brett Kitching paid tribute to Hinks on news of his passing. He is survived by his wife Heather and sons Greg, Peter and Stuart Jr.