Thomas’s Tale Has Happy Ending

Happy Clapper wins the Tramway Stakes at Randwick.

Happy Clapper storms home late to capture the Gr.2 Tramway Stakes (Lisa Grimm)


We’ve all heard the adage about “good things come to those who wait” and while it’s never a ‘given’ in the thoroughbred industry, Michael Thomas’s home-bred, Happy Clapper, is running testimony to his patience.

On Saturday at Royal Randwick, Happy Clapper won the Group Two Tattersalls Club Tramway Stakes over 1400m: the 7YO’s eighth career victory and third at stakes level, following on from a Group Two Villiers and a Group Three Newmarket at Newcastle.

Happy Clapper has also been placed on eight occasions and this is where is gets really interesting … second to Winx in last year’s Doncaster, third in the Queen Elizabeth, fourth in the Epsom, second – beaten half a length – in this year’s Doncaster.

All up, Happy Clapper has amassed $2,348,800 from his 26 starts.

Not bad for a horse that cost just $13,000 to breed!

“Happy Clapper is actually the fourth generation of horses’ I’ve bred from,” a very happy Thomas explains. “I basically breed to race and have owned quite a few from that family over the years.

“Happy Clapper’s granddam, Winifred’s Prayer was a very good mare who had five winners from as many to race, including dual Group winner and (Group One) Galaxy runnerup, Thankgodyou’rehere, and Gunfire Messiah, who won 11 races for me.

“I sent Winifred’s Prayer to Encosta de Lago when he was standing for just $7,000 – obviously before he was all the rage – and I was talked into selling the resultant filly as a yearling. She made $40,000 and was raced by John Morrisey where she won a race and was placed several times in town.

“Her name was Busking and, around the time she was retired from racing, Darley had been buying up a lot of Encosta mares and she was one of them.

“They sent her to Commands with the first foal going to China, the second – a Lonhro – won 11 races in Singapore and I think he’s still over there racing as a 10YO, while the third was another Commands called Gig who won four races and was multiple Group placed.

“I tried to buy Gig at the 2013 Inglis August Thoroughbred Sale, where she was eventually knocked down for $61,000. Two years later she made $300,000 at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale.

“The next foal, by Street Sense, was a winner although he didn’t do much, but Darley then decided to cull Busking and offered her for sale at the 2010 Inglis Broodmare Sale where I snapped her up, in foal to Teofilo, for $13,000.

“The foal ended up being Happy Clapper.”

(Teofilo has subsequently sired Australian Group One winners Palentino, Kermadec, Humidor and Sonntag, and his fee at Darley this spring is $44,000).

“Following on from Happy Clapper, Busking produced On The Fiddle that has won a couple of races for me with Matthew Dale and Matthew also has Happy Clapper’s (3YO) full brother who is one big boy – so big in fact that he’s hard to fit in the barrier stalls. He’s unlikely to race until he’s at least a 4YO … Busking always did produce big horses.

“I sold her Not a Single Doubt 2YO to Ciaron Maher and kept a quarter share, while I’ll race the Not a Single Doubt (yearling) colt myself.

“Sadly, Busking died on Australia Day after a bad bout of colic, which leaves me with the one mare, Offer It Up, who is a half sister to Busking. She (Offer It Up) was a better racehorse than Busking but not as a good a broodmare … well, not yet anyway.”

Thomas loves his breeding and racing and, courtesy of Happy Clapper, is quite a few lengths ahead of the game.

“I’ve only usually got around four or five horses at any one time, but have kept records over a 15 year or so period,” Thomas adds. “I was lucky to have one flagship horse to carry the others, but before Happy Clapper came along, the balance sheet was just starting to tip over into the red.

“And then Happy Clapper arrives on the scene and wins six from seven in town, including the Villiers and the rest is history. In fact, he’s now paying all my horses’ school fees!”

Happy Clapper races out of the stable of Randwick trainer, Pat Webster, one of the most popular figures in Sydney racing and according to the veteran mentor, the 7YO is among his all-time favourites.

“I trained Ab Initio who won five Group races in the late 90s and held the track record at Randwick, while I also trained At Sea for a while, but I’ve got a real soft spot for Happy Clapper,” Webster points out. “While the other two were out and out sprinters, Happy Clapper can get a strong mile and always puts in. He loves Randwick too.”

Perhaps Happy Clapper will win that elusive Group One in the $1 million TAB Epsom Handicap over 1600m and Royal Randwick on 30 September?

Now that would be worth a standing ovation!

The Power of Passion