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Caspar Fownes lands heavyweight blow in trainers’ championship tussle

June 20, 2021, 1:39:10 PM

Caspar Fownes has established a significant lead in the battle with John Size for the 2020/21 trainers' championship with a quintet at Sha Tin on Sunday, capping off a stunning display of strength capped by victory in the final two Group races of the Hong Kong season (20 June).

With seven meetings remaining in the current season, Fownes leads 11-time champion Size 74-67 after his imposing 12-horse string dominated with five winners and two seconds throughout ten races.

Fownes began the 81st meeting of the season with a two-win lead against Size, having won in 2006/07, 2008/09, and 2013/14. By the conclusion of the day, he had equaled his previous best haul at Sha Tin with triumphs by Joy Master, Lucky Quality, Southern Legend, Sky Field, and Killer Bee.

Symbolically, Fownes' display of strength crossed the age gap, from veteran Southern Legend's G3 Premier Plate Handicap (1800m) victory to Sky Field's effort to lead home stablemate and BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) victor Sky Darci in the G3 Premier Cup Handicap (1400m) to Killer Bee's continued emergence.

“We needed to do something positive, something large, something that made a statement, and we did that today. Now it's only a matter of luck; we've arrived and are gaining speed. I've got a lot more wins on the way, so I'm delighted and feeling fantastic. “It's been a fantastic day,” Fownes remarked.

Sky Field's rasping finish vindicated Fownes' trust in the Deep Field horse and gave Blake Shinn a huge delight, prompting Fownes to design a probable route to the December 2021 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races.

“I've told you how amazing he is, and it was fantastic to watch Blake have success with him. He settled wonderfully for Blake last start, and he settled nicely again today over an extra furlong. 'On the run,' I continued, 'I know what he's capable of.' It's fantastic because the best is yet to come with him,” Fownes remarked.

Shinn had a smooth ride before releasing the gelding.

“Caspar simply said to turn off the horse and use his finest attribute, which is his turn of foot. “The horse did everything correctly,” said the Melbourne Cup-winning rider.

“When I produced him, he simply scooped them up and went straight past the line. It's fantastic because we all believed in this horse's talent, and he stood up and defeated a strong field. It's incredible to win a Group race in Hong Kong.”

Sky Field's acceleration was described as "electric" by Shinn, who said that the chestnut "feels like a real Group 1 horse and he's been placed in the sprint two runs ago at the top level in Hong Kong and I believed he was a Group 1 horse from the first time I got on him."

“Even though he didn't win a Group 1 today, I'm confident that next preparation he'll only blossom and become a really significant force in the future season,” the Australian added.

“It means a lot to win this race here today for Caspar, who has been a fan since the beginning. Today is Caspar's birthday.”

Sky Darci, according to Fownes, will now be spelt.

“He was fantastic; he had a fantastic season, and it was a fantastic effort to come back at the end of the year. You know how hot it is, and we've had them up all season,” he explained.

Joao Moreira, who increased his lead in the jockeys' championship to 25 points over Zac Purton with a treble, is still optimistic about Killer Bee, who showed a great turn of foot after being difficult to load before winning the Class 3 Amber Handicap (1200m).

“He's a really clever horse; he's still a little young and makes mistakes, but where he is now gives us confidence that he'll go very high in the ratings,” says the trainer. Moreira said that the gelding's pre-race antics "show to me that he is still extremely young and doesn't know what his duty is and nothing like time." He'll become better with practice.”

“He's a good horse,” Fownes remarked. I believe we will have a really exciting horse in the future. He appears to be quite forward-thinking. Inside the stable, he's a gentleman, only to put the saddle on (and) he's a little naughty.”

When apprentice Alfred Chan's well-judged finish on Joy Master enabled the horse to win the Class 5 Tourmaline Handicap (1600m), Fownes' quest for championship glory was launched in excellent form.

Swot Troopers Wind, trained by David Hall, defeated Fownes and Vincent Ho on Tailor Made in the second race, the Class 4 Peridot Handicap (2000m), with to a magnificent front-running ride by Matthew Poon, who won for the second time in four starts.

The Fownes attack resumed, though, in the Class 4 Jasper Handicap (1000m), when Moreira guided the injury-prone Lucky Quality to victory over first-starter Flying Dragon and Spicy So Good.

As Fownes' rainfall worsened, Ruan Maia rode Paul O'Sullivan's Marado to a drought-breaking victory in the Class 4 Onyx Handicap (1200m), the Brazilian's first since 8 April.

“I'm overjoyed since it's been a long time since my previous victory (Wine And Wine at Happy Valley),” Maia remarked after winning his sixth race after moving to the United States from Singapore in February.

“It's been difficult at times, but I'm glad because I'm gaining experience, I can develop my thinking, I can improve myself, and I'm just waiting for my opportunity to find my path. I will continue to fight.”

From gate 14, Matthew Chadwick rode Benno Yung's Hinchinlove to victory in the Class 2 Alexandrite Handicap, defeating Size and Moreira's Lucky Express (1400m).

Chadwick located the rail on the gelding and rated the bay to perfection before edging out the winner by a short head.

Hall recorded a double as Purton led Maldives to victory in the Class 3 Aquamarine Handicap (1400m).

On Wednesday, racing in Hong Kong resumes at Happy Valley (23 June).