‘Equine traffic’ Winx’s main danger in Apollo
Happy Clapper's trainer will be satisfied with a second placing, Le Romain won't be there, Aloisia is taking up the challenge and then there is her stablemates - all nine of them.
This sums up the likely opposition to mighty mare Winx when she begins her final race campaign in the Group 2 $250,000 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Winx's trainer, Chris Waller has another nine horses nominated for the race - Brimham Rocks, Egg Tart, Endless Drama, McCreery, Noire, Patrick Erin, Performer, Tom Melbourne and Unforgotten.
How many of her stablemates actually take their place in the final field for the weight-for-age feature is unclear but with "equine traffic" Winx's main danger, it is doubtful the Waller stable will have 10 starters.
Winx is chasing her 30th consecutive win on Saturday with TAB Fixed Odds price assessors rating her a near-certainty at $1.12 in early betting.
Her prohibitive odds hasn't prevented one punter from placing a $40,000 wager on her to extend her winning streak.
Happy Clapper has finished behind Winx in eight previous clashes and his trainer Pat Webster isn't about to predict a different result when Sydney's two most popular racehorses clash again on Saturday.
"I'm not happy to have to take on Winx, I'm never happy having to go up against her but 'The Clapper' does run well at Randwick and we have to start somewhere,'' Webster said.
"Winx is a champion, the best I've seen, and if he can run second or third to her we know we are on track.''
Happy Clapper has won 11 of his 37 starts and career earnings of more an $6.3 million prizemoney including the Doncaster Mile and Epsom Handicap.
But he has been Winx's immediate chaser in three Group 1 races, Doncaster Mile, George Ryder Stakes and George Main Stakes, costing Happy Clapper's connections another $2 million prizemoney.
"Winx is a champion, the best I've seen, and if he can run second or third to her we know we are on track."
Happy Clapper hasn't raced since suffering a bleeding attack last September but Webster said the eight-year-old showed in his recent barrier trial win that he retains his zest for racing.
"In the trial you could see 'The Clapper' has lost none of his will to be a racehorse,'' Webster said.
"If he doesn't bleed again, he will race until he is 10 and be competitive, seriously he that is the sort of horse he is.
"I'm lucky in the fact he is not a horse that takes a lot of work anyway so the first time we really let him stretch out this preparation was in that barrier trial.
"We don't do a lot with him now, the trial has brought him on and he will just go a bit of pacework this week. He's ready to go.''
Webster said Happy Clapper is likely to take on Winx again in the Chipping Norton Stakes on March 3 before going to Melbourne for the All-Star Mile.
"I've entered 'The Clapper' for the Doncaster and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and I'd like to run him in those races again if everything goes well through the autumn,'' Webster said.
"He's ran second in two Doncasters before winning the race last year - he loves the Randwick 'mile'.''
Kris Lees, trainer of Le Romain, confirmed his multiple Group 1 winner won't be lining up against Winx on Saturday.
"I've entered Le Romain as a precaution but he won't be there, he is likely to go to Melbourne,'' trainer Kris Lees said.
Aloisia and her stablemate Mask Of Time complete the entries with trainer Ciaron Maher revealing the latter will also start in the Apollo Stakes if the track is rain-affected on Saturday.