“He had every chance when I rode him two back and only just won,” Clipperton said at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning (14 November). “He had a good barrier and a soft run. He’s a quirky horse, he’s not easy to ride. He’s still very new and very raw, he’ll be better this time next season but in saying that, he has a lot of ability and when he does put things together, he’s certainly got enough to win a couple of races.”
Last start, Gold Land ended up at the rear after being bumped heavily at the start with Umberto Rispoli in the plate. He finished 10th that day at Happy Valley’s sole afternoon race meeting of the year, almost four lengths behind Thunder Stomp, but Clipperton says it is an effort best forgiven.
“He’s the type who needs things to go his way, he doesn’t cop it when something goes wrong,” the rider said. “He’s got a barrier where he can get a similar run to what he did when he won. He’s up against a competitive field – Victory Boys is honest, so is Red Marvel, Dr Win Win won last start but Gold Land actually beat him when he won.
“It’s a competitive race but at least we’ll be around the right horses, we’ll be midfield or a bit better. If he does things right, he can run well.”
Thunder Stomp (120lb) steps up in class for his first Class 2 run in the night’s closer, the Tokyo Handicap (1650m). The Fastnet Rock five-year-old has won two of his four starts this season, with seven-pound apprentice Dylan Mo having his first race ride on Me Tsui’s galloper.
He meets a competitive field that includes Thunder Stomp’s stablemate Divine Boy (123lb), John Size-trained Big Bang Bong (122lb) and last-start placegetters Beauty Prince (119lb) and Lucky Girl (119lb).
The Class 3 Japan Racing Association Trophy (1650m) comes up at 10.15pm, with the Class 2 Tokyo Handicap (1650m) ending the card at 10.50pm. The opener, the Class 5 Fukushima Handicap (1000m), begins the meeting at 7.15pm.