A decision to place greater emphasis on the training side of the business appears to be paying dividends for former top jumps rider Clayton Chipperfield who produced a winning double on Saturday. Two-year-old Proisir filly London Bound made many sit up and take notice with a stunning seven length win on debut in the opening event at Te Rapa while progressive four-year-old Obsessive rounded out the day in fine style on a testing track at Awapuni with a win in the last race of the day.
Chipperfield, who made the long drive from his Te Awamutu base to Awapuni with Obsessive, was delighted with how things played out on the day. “It was a great day and I thought both horses were very impressive,” he said. “London Bound is a very exciting filly with a big future ahead of her while Obsessive proved how tough he is with a win on what was as deep a track as you will probably get this winter. “When I was driving down (to Awapuni) in the rain on Friday I was thinking holy hell this is going to be tough for him but I knew he was very fit so I was hoping he would get through it.”
Ridden confidently by Hazel Schofer, Obsessive came from well back in the field to forge clear in the closing stages of the 1550m contest, with Chipperfield full of praise for the ride by the young apprentice. “I though she rode him brilliantly as she didn’t panic when Plan A went out the window at the start,” Chipperfield said. “I told her to keep him handy throughout but he got a shuffle up and was back near last. “She did exactly what she needed to do to get back in the race and I was really impressed with how she kept calm and just did what was needed to get him home. “She has a big future if that is what she is already producing at this stage of her career.”
Chipperfield is no stranger to success himself, having forged a very successful career riding over jumps in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Among his many highlights in the saddle was guiding Golden Flare to successive victories in the Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m) at Ellerslie in 2002 and 2003. “I enjoyed my riding career and those wins on Golden Flare were pretty special,” he said. “I sometimes look at the riding ranks now and think it might be good to be riding in those big races but reality sets in pretty quickly as I’m nearly 40 and have a mortgage and kids so that isn’t an option anymore.”
Chipperfield ended his riding career in 2005 after returning from his second stint in America where the local scene there forced him to make changes to his body that weren’t compatible with racing back in New Zealand. “I rode for two years in the States and had a great time there but it also probably forced my retirement when I came home,” he said. “When I went up there, I was riding at 62-63kgs which was very light as even their maiden jumpers carried around 72kgs. “A lot of the horses were big and strong and pulled hard so I spent a fair bit of time bulking up in the gym so I could do justice to the mounts I was getting. “When I came home, I was overweight and had to waste hard which really took its toll so I decided to give riding away.”
Chipperfield then began working as the foreman for local Te Awamutu trainer Robert Priscott which progressed to a successful training partnership for the pair for a number of years. “I really enjoyed my time with Robert, firstly as his foreman and then in a training partnership with him,” Chipperfield said. “We worked really well together but I also knew at some stage I would need to go out on my own which I did about six years ago. “I started off breaking and pre-training, predominantly for the Oaks Stud, but also with some outside clients that I have built up over time. “That has gone well and I have combined that with training the odd one for the Oaks and others along the way. “This year I talked it over with my wife and decided it might be time to give the training side of things more effort so we have been slowly building up a team which is gaining some momentum of late.”
Amongst the clients that Chipperfield has done breaking and pre-training work for is Wellington businessman Martin Dalgleish, who now races London Bound and another promising two-year-old in Alexander Hamilton in Chipperfield’s stable under the Pharos Thoroughbreds banner. “Martin has supported me over the years and it is exciting to have some very nice young horses to train for him,” Chipperfield said. “London Bound has shown enormous promise and I think she could develop into a very nice three- year-old while Alexander Hamilton has the makings of a top-quality stayer.
“With that in mind we have actually sent him to Australia last week as there just aren’t any suitable races for him here at the moment. “He has gone to Rachael Frost, who also trains one for Martin, and will most likely have two runs over there starting at Sandown over 1400m on Wednesday. “Safely through there he will then go over 1800m later this month before coming back for a spell at the Oaks Stud. “I think he is a real Derby type as he is already crying out for more ground after two nice runs here over 1200m. “If he keeps making the progress we think he can then we could be in for a very exciting season coming up.”