Best On Breeding
Mark Smith - Friday April 20

The story behind hobby breeder Michael Thomas’ success with the half-brothers Happy Clapper and Not A Single Cent dates back a long way before the purchase of their dam Busking.

It goes back three generations to the Sydney winning mare Vale Nymph.

The daughter of Avon Valley was no star on the track or at stud. Of her 10 foals, seven reached the track and five were winners.

The best of the five was her first foal, the stakes-placed Green Waters a 15-time winning son of Opera Prince, who was not bred by Thomas but by Larry Pickering and Gerry Rose.

The following year for Thomas, Vale Nymph foaled a filly by the 2yo Triple Crown winner Tierce.


Named Winifred’s Prayer, she won a 2yo maiden over 1000 metres at Canberra at her career debut and never raced again.

Winifred's Prayer only left six foals but the five to reach the track were all above average.

Busking, a daughter of Encosta de Lago, was her second foal. She only won one of her 16 starts but was a regular placegetter in Brisbane and was fourth in the Ken Russel Memorial Classic.

Thomas sold Busking who went through several sales before ending up in the paddocks of Woodlands Stud. She was there in 2008 when that famed Gerry’s Plain's nursery was sold to Darley.

Two years later Darley decided to cull Busking and sent her to the Melbourne March Thoroughbred Sale carrying a positive test to Teofilo (IRE).

At the time of her sale Busking had had four foals, two named, and none yet to reach the track.

Thomas noticed Busking in the sale and he was armed with some very important inside knowledge on Busking’s half-brother Thankgodyou'rehere who appeared in the catalogue as the winner of three races.

Raced by Thomas, the son of Secret Savings was the final foal of Winifred’s Prayer and he was soon to win the Group III Hawkesbury Gold Cup and Group III Bill Ritchie Stakes on his way to compiling a record of eight wins and eight placed with earnings of $541,550.

Of the four foals Busking had left before Thomas outlaid $13,000 to bring the mare back home with Happy Clapper in utero, Santana (Lonhro) was a 5-time winner in Singapore and the very handy Commands mare Gig was a 4-time winner in Melbourne with prizemoney of $374,265.

Darley may have rued the day they let go Busking for $13,000 but there was also a sting selling Gig for $61,000 at the 2013 Melbourne August Bloodstock Sale.

At the time of her sale, her half-brother Happy Clapper had just a third in a 2yo maiden at Kembla Grange on his resume.

At the recent Inglis Chairman’s Broodmare Sale, Sun Bloodstock purchased Gig for $190,000.

So, we all know ‘The Clapper’ has 11 wins to his credit including a Group 1 treble while enriching Thomas by $6,340,050 so it must have been difficult to part with Busking’s eighth and penultimate foal, a son of Not A Single Doubt.

After being purchased by Ciaron Maher Racing for $280,000 out of the Willow Park draft at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling sale, Thomas brought back a 25 percent share in the colt that was to be named Not A Single Cent.

At just his second race start Not A Single Cent won the Group II VRC Sire’s Produce Stakes at Flemington (photo Grant Courtney) giving Thomas a double celebration as Happy Clapper claimed $500,000 Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick later in the day.

Not A Single Cent has made just one start since his victory in the VRC Sires, finishing a troubled tenth in the Group 1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes won by the outsider El Dorado Dreaming.

We will be banking on Not A Single Cent reversing that decision in Saturday’s $500,000 Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) as the curtain comes down of the Randwick autumn carnival.