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Clarken Racing | Clarken Racing News 55985 In Form Stable Set To Strike With Jean Valjean

In-form stable set to strike with Jean Valjean

In-form stable set to strike with Jean Valjean

The Will Clarken and Niki O'Shea stable has struck form in the past month and is hoping to parlay it into a Flemington victory with the exciting Jean Valjean.

The talented six-year-old made a mess of his rivals first-up at Morphettville Parks, defying the track pattern on the day to storm home from the back and salute in impressive fashion.

The manner of that performance prompted a trip over the border with Jean Valjean looking to go one better than an eye-catching second at The Valley in January in his only other race in Melbourne.

Stable apprentice Ben Price is also set to make his Flemington debut.

Jean Valjean is rated a $5 chance in the opening race with the TAB, the second-elect behind the Peter Moody and Kathryn Coleman-prepared River Noire ($2.80).

"I think he's going well. He went super first-up, I wish there was a bit more give in the ground over there but he's drawn beautifully," Clarken said.

"It looks like (Smile And Wave) will roll along and it's a good chance for Ben to go and have a ride over there.

"I think the straight will really suit him. Big tracks are his go."

It has been a year of evolution for the stable with Clarken and O'Shea officially joining forces in January while this week they moved 30 horses into their brand new Murray Bridge yard – with another 10 to join them next week.

But after snaring five metro winners from the past four meetings, and finishing second, third and fourth in last week's Listed Lightning Stakes, things are looking up.

"It's much better. We flushed out a lot of the older horses that had hit their rating mark and were holding up the show," Clarken said.

Story by Tom Biddington

"We've got a really good team of young horses coming through. We've got a big set of jumpouts at Murray Bridge on Monday and we're getting a bit of a flow on.

"There might be a few teething issues now that we've got Murray Bridge online – we've got to find the lay of the land – but I think the back-end of this season and into the next couple of seasons to come, we should be a force to be reckoned with."

Clarken will saddle up five horses at Murray Bridge on Saturday and suggests the debutant Grint is the best of his chances.

"I think Grint has improved a lot since his trial and I think there might be a couple that are vulnerable in that race and he'll be strong late," he said of the $5 hope.

Meanwhile, stable star Ironclad – who finished second to Amelia's Jewel in the Group 1 Northerly Stakes in December – is set to resume in next weekend's Group 3 Behemoth Stakes.

"He trialled really well (on Friday) morning – I'm really happy with him," Clarken said.

"He'll go to the Behemoth and then the Leon Macdonald Stakes and then there are plenty of options in Melbourne and we may even look taking him for a few runs in Sydney this time in, given he gets through the going."


ICYMI - Galaxy Patch runs a smashing second in the Hong Kong Derby

  A $50,000 Adelaide Magic Million purchase by Will Clarken, Suman Hedge Bloodstock and David Jolly the son of Wandjina was purchased with Hong Kong in mind. After winning impressively on debut at Morphettville, Hong Kong was on the radar.   Instantly the gelding made his presence felt in Hong Kong winning on debut he then went on to win three further races following an unplaced run on the all weather track. Going into the Hong Kong Derby he was second at Group One level against California Spangle. The step up to 2000 metres was a question mark having previously only ran over the sprint trips.   From the big raw lad we purchased at the Adelaide Magic Millions in 2021 it is such a pleasure to see the vision we had almost become a reality on international shores.   Galaxy Patch became the second horse selected at the Adelaide Magic Millions by Will to reach the Hong Kong Derby after Prawn Baba a $20,000 purchase placed seventh in 2017.

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Kuroyanagi's spring goals

South Australian filly Kuroyanagi will spell in Victoria after a terrific run to finish third in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield, with her trainers already looking ahead to further elite-level targets in the spring. Niki O'Shea, who co-trains with Will Clarken, said the filly could head towards Guineas options later this year, having shown a great deal of raw talent in just her first racing preparation. "It was great, she was fantastic," O'Shea said. "When she came off the bit early, I thought we were in big trouble, so I was just happy that she did what she did. "On Sunday morning you wouldn't have known she'd had a run. She's actually going to stay there, she's gone to the paddock at one of those nice places down at Mornington." Clarken and O'Shea were not sure where Kuroyanagi would get to in her first preparation, with the view the $390,000 Written Tycoon filly will be a superior three-year-old galloper. "We've hardly trained her really, she's just done it under her own steam, we nearly put her in the paddock three or four times and she just kept pointing us in the right direction," O'Shea said. "He (Brenton Avdulla) said she was just green, ran off the corner and ran around the place, she's still six months away. He said she might even be a Guineas-type of horse, she's got the big action and she'll only keep improving."Story from Tim Yeatman

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Clarken ‘blown away' by his Blue Diamond filly

Blue Diamond contender Kuroyanagi is doing things Will Clarken has never seen before. The Group 1-winning trainer is astounded by the physical development of the talented filly and her appetite for work, confident she's going to run a big race in Saturday's $2m feature at Caulfield. Clarken has been open about the fact he's been searching for an excuse to tip Kuroyanagi out, convinced she's going to be even better as a three-year-old, but she's just thriving. "It's amazing. Me and (co-trainer) Niki (O'Shea) are just blown away by what she's done," Clarken said. "I could send people a video of her first gallop this prep and you'd just think it was a different horse. The way she's improved and the way she can handle pressure in a preparation is phenomenal. "I've never had a juvenile who has strengthened and developed in work. Week-to-week she's getting bigger and stronger and more durable. She's a ferocious doer and nothing fazes her. "I haven't dealt with a lot of really good young horses like this but she's just obviously got a great constitution." Kuroyanagi first came to prominence in early January when superstar jockey Jamie Kah made a rare visit home to South Australia to ride her to a dominant victory in a jumpout at Murray Bridge. She went on to win her debut in soft fashion at Gawler before an agonising second across the border in the Group 2 Blue Diamond Prelude for fillies earlier this month. "She's just come home and thrived. I haven't had one travel back and handle it so well for a long time," Clarken said. "That was our main concern as it was the first trip away for a young horse but she's put on weight, she's really above herself and he work has been terrific – we've been able to get two good gallops into her." With Kah and Blake Shinn, who partnered Kuroyanagi in the Prelude, opting to go elsewhere, Clarken was left searching for a suitable rider and he was watching a recent Sha Tin meeting when it hit him that Brenton Avdulla would be perfect. "I like to keep an eye on Hong Kong racing because we've got a small pool of horses over there now and he's riding so well," he said. "I was going through options, I asked a couple of Sydney guys and they had rides up there, so I said to (racing manager) Lachie (Weekley) ‘why don't you ask (Avdulla)'? "We watched him ride a double at the Chinese New Year meeting and I thought ‘imagine getting him on, it'd be awesome'." Kuroyanagi is rated an $18 hope with the TAB and Clarken thinks that presents good value. "The gate (two) to me is not ideal, I would've liked to have drawn out a little bit, but we've got the gun riding her, so that will help," he said "If she gets a little luck in running, I think she's a genuine each-way chance. "It's hard to say that going into big Group 1s but she has trained on remarkably well."

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