Racing Around the Ridges: Happy times for Webster

Jockey Pat Webster, pictured at Rosehill Races in May 1968.
Jockey Pat Webster, pictured at Rosehill Races in May 1968.

The racing game is a highly competitive “dog-eat-dog industry” but every now again, a little story comes along that will bring a tear to the eye of the most hardened racegoer.

The Pat Webster story is one of them.

Pat has been in the game just about all his life. Originally, he tried his hand as a jockey, with some success before a terrible fall had him in hospital for 10 months.

After being released from hospital, he took various jobs to keep the “wolf from the door”, including working on the docks for a period of time, but the racing game was in his blood and Pat decided to take out a trainer’s licence in 1972, informing his wife he didn’t like paying tax.

Pat says his wife replied: “That’s fine, because you will never earn enough money to pay tax.”

His form was average for a couple more preps, then the penny dropped for the old gelding.

Pat says she was right.  He was a great horseman but it was an ongoing battle with a small team of between six and 12 horses. Pat won some nice races, but the Group Ones eluded him.

Along the way, a gelding called Happy Clapper came into the stable. He didn’t do much in his early preparations, but was well looked after by Pat, and when he was a six-year-old gelding, he saluted in the Villiers - a Group 2 run over 1600 metres at Randwick in December 2015.

His form was average for a couple more preps, then the penny dropped for the old gelding. First up on September 2, 2017, he won the Group 2 Tramway Handicap. Next start, he was runner-up to Winx in the Group 1 George Main Stakes, but it got so much better. The old gelding saluted in the $1 million Group 1 Epsom.

After 50 years spent in racing, Pat was finally rewarded with a Group 1 and, as one scribe reported it: “There has never been a more popular win at Randwick this century.”

Fast forward to last Saturday and first up from a break, the now seven-year-old gelding saluted with another Group 1 victory in the Canterbury Stakes. Pat was at his jovial best.

“Boy we’re on a roll. We’ve only got six horses in the stable, imagine if we had another half dozen.” 

Golden chance

LOCALLY-owned colt Ef Troop is among the main chances for the Golden Slipper after a top run in the Todman Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.

The horse shared the lead and fought on strongly down the straight to go down narrowly to Aylmerton.

In our opinion, Magic Millions winner Sunlight is the one to beat, but with two-year-olds, they can go off overnight and Ef Troop has had a nice little break.

Good luck to the locals – we’ll be cheering for you.

Joke of the week

LOCAL resident asked his daughter if she had seen his newspaper. She told him that newspapers are old school. She said that people use tablets nowadays and handed him her Ipad. The fly didn’t stand a chance.