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Sha Tin double gives Caspar Fownes vital breathing space

June 7, 2021, 5:04:52 AM

Caspar Fownes, buoyed by a timely display of strength, is not taking anything for granted, despite edging out John Size for a three-win lead in the Hong Kong trainers' championship after recording a double at Sha Tin on Sunday (6 June).

The Rock and Seven Heavens victory enhanced Fownes' chances of claiming a fourth trainers' title, leaving the 2006/07, 2008/09, and 2013/14 champion behind Size 68-65 with 10 meetings remaining in the season.

“I'm content. I'm just getting started. As I already stated, it will be a close call. “I'm simply getting back into my routine – which is to be anticipated – and long may it continue for the remainder of the season,” Fownes remarked.

“We still have a long way to go.”

Fownes has five winners from his last 29 starts, while Size's most recent victory – Courier Wonder on May 23 – was followed by a 32-race losing streak.

Chad Schofield won his 24th race of the 2020/21 season at The Rock, while Joao Moreira (138 victories) and Matthew Poon (33) shared riding honors with doubles.

“On paper, we sought to go at a slow pace. “He took a little longer to get there in the long run to the first turn, but they left me alone and I was able to rate him the way I wanted,” Schofield said of The Rock.

“I picked it up when I wanted to, and to his credit, when I hit the button, he gave me a good surge — powerful win.”

After Packing Award ran erratically but still won the Class 4 On Yam Handicap (1400m) for Zac Purton despite jumping from barrier 12, David Hayes looks to have uncovered another potential prospect.

“He did a tremendous job today because he flung his head for 600 metres, resenting the tempo, and you don't frequently see them do that so severely and win,” said the multiple Hong Kong champion trainer.

“He is now on vacation and will be produced next season, and it will be interesting to watch what he can achieve. He must have a few of classes in him to come from such a wide barrier and win like that.”

Fairy Floss' triumph in the Class 4 Ping Tin Handicap - the grey's fourth win in six races – was ascribed to maturity and the brilliance of Moreira, who brought up a double on the Guillotine gelding.

“He's a horse that took a long time to acclimate to Hong Kong,” said O'Sullivan. “He's more at ease now, and he's found his stride. He had a lot going against him today, so it was a really solid win. He was out in the draw (gate 14), and Joao Moreira gave him a good ride.

“It's the end of the season for him now, but he's done an outstanding job.”

Infinite Power broke through in the Class 4 On Ting Handicap (1200m) under Poon, who registered his second double for the week following a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday, thanks to a change in tactics by Frankie Lor (2 June).

“He's a large horse that likes to roll, so we opted to lead on him today,” Lor said. “He seemed to like being ridden in that manner. In the past, he has gone close to winning but has not been able to finish.”

Alex Lai won his fourth race of the season when Moon Peaks won the Class 5 Po Tin Handicap (1200m) for Me Tsui, before the Fownes-trained Seven Heavens – another Frankel son – stopped a 23-race losing streak for Moreira in the Class 4 Mei Tin Handicap.

“He's been annoying, but it's fantastic to see him triumph, especially in such a big way,” Fownes said. “His rating should be near 80, and he was around 60 (57) entering into this race — it's fantastic to see him win again.”

Tony Cruz voiced a similar viewpoint after Joyful Fortune won the Class 3 Kwong Tin Handicap (1000m) under Poon despite a succession of leg ailments.

Cruz stated, "He's had so many troubles, so many injuries." “It's incredibly nice to win in this manner and run a quick time (55.26s).”

Apprentice Jerry Chau extended his stellar season by driving Benno Yung's Sure Win Win along the wire to capture the Class 5 Yan Tin Handicap (1600m, dirt).

“It was a fantastic ride, simply outstanding - it was brilliant,” Yung remarked after Diamond Brilliant and Karis Teetan beat Winner Method and Drops Of God to win the Class 3 Lai On Handicap (1200m).

“(Diamond Brilliant) has talent, but he falters in races and slows himself down. This horse will keep going if he sees a goal in front of him, which is why I urged Karis to keep chasing Zac's horse (Winner Method).

“You must win the race at the correct time, since this horse will just follow the others.”

Dennis Yip's Kasi Farasi stormed late to overcome Leap Of Faith right on the line to win the Class 3 Lee On Handicap, giving Frenchman Tony Piccone his sixth success of the season (1400m).

On Wednesday, racing in Hong Kong resumes at Happy Valley (9 June).