It has taken twenty five years and a lot of patience with one family for breeder Mark Thomas to secure a Gr.1 win, Happy Clapper delivering with a race record breaking victory in the Epsom Handicap on Saturday.
Thomas, whose career includes a stint as one of the Sydney’s leading bookmakers with a pitch on the old Rails on the four metropolitan tracks, acquired the Avon Valley mare Vale Nymph in 1993 in foal to the Golden Slipper winner Tierce. The resulting foal, a filly named Winnifred’s Prayer would be the best of the nine named horses Vale Nymph would drop.
In turn Winnifred’s Prayer would have five foals to race for as many winners, the best being Thankgodyou’rehere, a gelding by Secret Savings that raced to victory in the Bill Ritchie Handicap and Hawkesbury Gold Cup, both at Gr.3 level in Thomas’ colours of blue, black seams. Amongst Winnifred’s Prayer’s other progeny bred by Thomas were the eleven time winner Gunfire Messiah and the Encosta De Lago filly Busking. Foaled in 2000 Busking was sold for $40,000 as a yearling and would win a Canberra maiden over a mile.
Busking eventually made her way into the Darley broodmare band via Sheikh Mohammed’s purchase of the Ingham family’s Woodlands Stud. However, Darley choose to enter Busking in the 2010 Inglis March Thoroughbred Sale in Melbourne and it was Thomas who was on hand to buy her back for $13,000 carrying to Teofilo. That foal in utero was Happy Clapper and over $3 million in prizemoney later Thomas’ faith in the line that began with Vale Nymph has well and truly been rewarded.