Leo finally doubles up at Casino
IT HAS been a fair while between drinks since Leo Clapham trained a double at his home track at Casino.
At least three or four years, he reckons.
But yesterday the planets aligned and two of his better gallopers put paid to full fields and gave the local trainer a running double in the third and fourth races.
First it was Watchword, aided by a brilliant ride from apprentice Samantha Munro, which streeted his rivals by three-and-a-half lengths in the Bob Small Bridle; then came Goorabee, which was far too quick for a pair of in-form gallopers to take the 1200m sprint by five lengths.
“It sure has been a while,” Clapham said.
Clapham’s previous double came at Casino in August 2007 – coincidentally, Goorabee was one of the winners that day, and the other was his mare Neatana.
Clapham’s winners on Saturday were a class above, a fact acknowledged by the trainer, who has found it hard to get them to the track with all the recent rain.
“I have had them ready to go for a while and they missed out with the heavy tracks and cancelled meetings,” he said.
“They are TAB meeting class horses but I had to give them a run somewhere to keep them ticking along.”
Clapham heaped praise on apprentice Munro, who he used to take 4kg off Watchword’s 62.5kg handicap.
“Sam did exactly what I asked her to do,” he said.
“I instructed her to sit and wait and she stuck to the fence and gapped them up the straight.”
A humbled Munro put the spotlight back on her mount.
“He is such a nice ride,” Munro said. “I sat on him and he had another gear when he straightened for home.”
Clapham, 66, was especially moved to win the race which carries the name ofhis old mate Bob Small.
“Bob and I knocked around in the ’60s,” Clapham said.
“He was a great mate anda great horseman so I am honoured to win this one.”
As for the second leg of the double, Clapham didn’t get to see his seven-year-old Goorabee get his seventh win – he was still in the swab box after Watchword’s victory.
“He has been a great old horse for us,” he said.
Goorabee sat in behind the pace and exploded in the straight, gapping a field that included in-form gallopers Calumet and Mainsail.
Watchword and Goorabee will back up at the Lismore TAB meeting on Saturday.