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Sky Field returns for G3 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy

January 6, 2023 at 2:59:11 AM

Caspar Fownes hopes Sky Field can build on remarkable consistency as the Group 1-winning speedster attempts to break new ground in the HK$3.9 million G3 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy Handicap (1000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (8 January).

Caspar Fownes hopes Sky Field can build on remarkable consistency as the Group 1-winning speedster attempts to break new ground in the HK$3.9 million G3 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy Handicap (1000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (8 January).

Yet to win over the straight 1000m course, Sky Field has slotted six wins and 12 placings from 27 starts and the chestnut showed he has lost none of his dash with a charging third to Wellington last month when attempting to win a second successive G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).

“He’s good, he’s pulled up well. He’s obviously carrying a big weight (135lb) on Sunday but he’s always run with a lot of merit down the straight. It’s a little bit sharp for him but it’s a good race in preparation for the next step,” Fownes said, referring to plans to start Sky Field in the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) at Sha Tin on 5 February.

“I am very happy with him. I sent him up to Conghua for a couple of weeks, he’s come back and he looks to be happy and healthy. This is obviously a tough race, like they normally are when it’s a handicap, but he’s carried weight in the past and run with merit, so we’ll be looking for the same sort of outcome.”

With a second, third and fourth from three 1000m assignments, Sky Field faces 13 rivals at the weekend, including six from the 2022 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint – Sight Success (second), Courier Wonder (fourth), Cordyceps Six (seventh), Super Wealthy (eighth), Stronger (ninth) and Duke Wai (11th).

The balance of the field is comprised of Computer Patch (125lb), Master Eight (125lb), Kurpany (123lb), Nervous Witness (121lb), Campione (119lb), Rewarding Together (117lb) and Lucky With You (115lb) in what shapes as an intriguing contest.

With Sky Field to start from barrier six for Hugh Bowman, Fownes will also be represented by Kurpany, who will be partnered by Keith Yeung from gate 12.

“Kurpany is lightly-raced this season and coming in with a fresh set of legs. He’ll hopefully pick up a prize money cheque. It will be tough for him because he’s climbed up the ratings and he’s now at an awkward rating of 107, but there’s not much for him.”

Zac Purton takes the ride on Courier Wonder (131lb), while Vagner Borges reunites with John Size stablemate Sight Success (133lb).

Fownes, who has 20 winners this season, hopes Viva Chaleur can advance Four-Year-Old Classic Series hopes with a strong performance in the Class 3 (Restricted) Lung Fu Shan Handicap (1600m).

To be ridden by Bowman on Sunday, Viva Chaleur unleashed a withering finishing burst – clocking 22.55s for the final 400m – when fourth to Blaze Warrior in a 1400m Class 2 on 11 December.

That effort has filled Fownes with confidence the former Andre Fabre-trained galloper, who finished second in the 2021 G1 Prix Morny (1200m) when he raced as Trident, is ready to deliver.

“He ran very well last start over 1400 metres and we’re stretching him to the mile. He’s got a big weight (135lb). It’s going to be interesting – he’s a classy horse with a lot of potential, a lot of upside. We’re going to see whether he can run the distance out and that gives us a chance to go to the Hong Kong Four-Year-Old Series with him,” Fownes said.

“He’s definitely a quality animal who will definitely get into triple figures but it’s a matter of over what distance.”

In a field crammed with potential Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m), Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) and BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) aspirants, Fownes will also monitor the progress of Packing Hurricane (115lb).

“He had his first run a couple of weeks ago, so he goes in with a light weight. He’s a late maturing type of horse that will find his mark as well,” Fownes said. “He needs a little bit of racing to get used to the tempo of Hong Kong and hopefully he’ll bang us a couple of winners during the season.”

Sunday’s (8 January) 11-race card kicks off with the Class 5 Beacon Hill Handicap (1650m, dirt) at 12.30pm.

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