LEO Clapham returns to Murwillumbah tomorrow chasing a third successive win with his talented five-year-old gelding Crooked Gent.
The son of Toorak Toff has been in dynamic form, returning from a short freshener to win his past two starts at Grafton over 1100m and 1200m.
Before that he had won a Class 1 over 1200m at the Murwillumbah Cup meeting, his second win for Clapham.
Murwillumbah has been good to both Crooked Gent and Clapham.
The gelding won his maiden there back in January and the Casino trainer was also “born up there on the hill” as he pointed out when Crooked Gent won there on Cup day.
Leo’s grandfather and “all my relations” lived there.
He moved to Casino in 1960 where he “worked in the meatworks for 40 years” whilst also training horses.
He’s trained at Casino for 54 years now and received a major award from the club at a recent Beef Week Cup meeting. Leo celebrated by winning that year’s Beef Week Cup with She Tells Lies who is back in for her what is likely to be her last preparation.
Tomorrow Crooked Gent jumps from barrier eight with Jason Taylor, who has ridden him in all bar one of his 13 runs for Clapham, aboard and lumping 61.5kg in the Cool-A-Bah Cooling Services Benchmark 58 Handicap (1200m).
“He’s been a pretty good horse for us,” Leo Clapham said today.
“He’s pretty laid back.”
Which has seen him fit in well to the seven-horse stable Clapham has at the moment, allowing him to cruise through the days in his box and out in the paddock with a few roos.
Crooked Gent is also adaptable.
“He handles any type of track,” Leo Clapham said.
“Handled every one he’s been on so far for us but we’ll probably give him a few weeks off after this, give him a little bit of a let up.”
Leo also saddles up Mecum, a four-year-old black gelding son of Statue of Liberty in the fourth race of the day, the Murwillumbah Exhaust Class 1 Handicap (1100m).
“He’s not a bad little horse,” he said.
“He’s on the way up.”
Mecum has drawn barrier one with Jason Taylor also to ride.
Crooked Gent will tackle a number of Queenslanders in his sprint as well as Murwillumbah gelding Conquers All.
Angela Graham prepares Conquers All at Murwillumbah and unlike Crooked Gent the five-year-old gelding has drawn well in barrier one with in-form jockey Ben Looker to ride.
Looker is having a great season after winning the Kosciuszko on Belflyer at Randwick recently and then backing up to win with the Grafton-trained gelding again at the Sunshine Coast.
John Shelton prepares Belflyer, the Northern Rivers Horse of the Year, and the Grafton trainer also has Lucky Meteor running in tomorrow’s feature race, the Greenmount Timber and Building Supplies Open Handicap (1100m).
While Crooked Gent has won his only two start at Murwillumbah Lucky Meteor is yet to race there and has to overcome the widest barrier (10 of 10) and a big weight , 62kg (down to 60.5kg with Cejay Graham’s claim).
He is coming off a good effort at Grafton when second to Impregnable in the 1100m Jacaranda Cup and does drop 1.5kg from that outing although John Shelton isn’t overly keen about starting him.
“It’s a tricky start there, they’re turning all the time,” John Shelton said.
“As soon as they jump they are turning there. “
He will make up his mind over night whether he starts at a track that hasn’t been that kind to him over the years.
“Had a few winners there, not many though,” he said.
Shelton said Belflyer has pulled up well from his win at the Sunshine Coast last Saturday and might go to Sydney in a few weeks for a “hard race”.
The metro tracks appear to be Belflyer’s domain now with his benchmark rating so high he will be weighted out of country races.
“His next run in the country will most probably next year’s Ramornie,” he said of a gelding who ran second in the Clarence River Jockey Club’s feature sprint at the July racing Carnival in Grafton.