Final countdown for Randwick training icon
When Happy Clapper was retired earlier this year, his trainer was never going to be far behind.
One of racing’s most popular characters, Pat Webster announced he was calling time on his training career earlier this week, 42 years after taking out his licence.
Best known as the trainer of Happy Clapper, one of the few horses brave enough to regularly take on Winx, Webster will saddle up his final runner, Kosciusko, at Newcastle on Saturday.
“To come down from Clapper’s level to Kosciusko running at Newcastle on Saturday has been pretty difficult,” Webster said.
“When Clapper was in work it was like going to the track on a magic carpet ride from the farm and after he retired it was like driving a B-Double.”
Webster wont be lost to the industry and will continue his work with Racing NSW, including his role mentoring apprentice jockeys.
Nor does he expect to find himself at a loose end with 58 acres of land and 25 black angus bulls to look after at his central coast property.
“There are a lot of lawns to be mowed and a lot of paddocks to be slashed,” he said.
Along with Happy Clapper, Webster trained some talented horses including grand sprinter Ab Initio and Group One placegetter Thankgodyou’rehere.
But it was Happy Clapper who gave him the most treasured moment of his career.
“God’s gift to me was a Doncaster with Clapper,” Webster said.
“I thought my heart was going to come through my chest.
“I’ve been at Randwick all my life since I was 15 as an apprentice.
“If you said to me tomorrow, I’ll give you two Golden Slippers for a Doncaster, I wouldn’t take it. If you said I’ll give you a Melbourne Cup, I still wouldn’t take it because of my upbringing at Randwick.”
Webster will be trackside at Newcastle to saddle up Kosciusko, who fittingly will be ridden by stable apprentice Brandon Griffiths.
There were no favours with the horse drawing the outside barrier in the field of 10 but Webster remains hopeful he can bow out a winner.
“I’m sure all the other jockeys will let us just ease across and not do too much work,” Webster joked.
Kosciusko, who is part-owned by Webster’s life-long friend John Burke, will wear the trainer’s original stable colours of orange with a black maltese cross, hooped sleeves and cap.
Win, lose or draw, Webster will mark his final day as a trainer by having a quiet dinner with his beloved wife Chrissie.
“It will be a nice day,” he said.