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Fownes, Ho and Purton post Happy Valley doubles

January 18, 2024 at 2:46:45 AM

Preparing to unleash quality stayer Straight Arron in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (21 January), Caspar Fownes extended a strong season with a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (17 January) to underpin his reputation as the ‘King of The Valley’.

Preparing to unleash quality stayer Straight Arron in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (21 January), Caspar Fownes extended a strong season with a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (17 January) to underpin his reputation as the ‘King of The Valley’.

Fownes’ brace lifted the four-time Hong Kong champion trainer to the top of the Happy Valley seasonal standings with 17 wins – one clear of overall championship leader Pierre Ng, whose tally of 44 victories include 16 at the city circuit.

Absent tonight, Fownes scored with Super Contented under Keagan De Melo and M Unicorn, who was partnered by Vincent Ho – Straight Arron’s rider.

Joining Fownes in slotting doubles were Ho and Zac Purton, while De Melo snapped a 58-run of outs when the South African coaxed the best out of Super Contented in the Class 4 Jackson Handicap (1800m).

“It’s been a bit slow for my liking, but it goes that way – you just have to keep positive and bringing my family here tonight was a bit of a positive thing to do,” said De Melo, who was watched by his wife Demi, father Dion and mother Fiona.

“Obviously my wife is 110 percent behind me on the good and the bad days as well but it was a nice relief (to win) for me and this horse is on the improve.”

Ho sealed a double when M Unicorn finished stoutly to claim the Class 3 Connaught Handicap (1650m) after earlier prevailing aboard Win Win Fighter in the Class 4 Ice House Handicap (1650m) as Francis Lui reached the 30-win milestone for the season.

Happy United, who won the Class 3 Hong Kong Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1000m) under Purton, continued Jamie Richards’ strong run at Happy Valley this season. Richards has posted 13 wins for the campaign with 12 of those triumphs materialising at the city circuit.

“Happy Valley is great, but Sha Tin has been a very challenging place for us at the moment. Hopefully, we can fix that as we build into the rest of the season,” Richards said.

“He’s (Happy United) a young horse and he’s still improving – 1000m suits him round here and he was given a gun ride from a good gate (barrier four), so I’m really pleased to see him win like that.”

Purton also combined with David Hayes for the pair’s fifth victory this season when Sunny Baby – originally the first standby declared runner – narrowly won the Class 5 Murray Handicap (1800m).

“It was meant to happen. He (Sunny Baby) got in the race, got a good barrier (four) and he got a good jockey. From first emergency he won by a fingernail, so it was a good effort,” Hayes said.

Cody Mo struck for the seventh time this term when Crystal Powerful scored in the second section of the Class 4 Club Handicap (1200m) under Andrea Atzeni.

Karis Teetan moved to 38 wins this season as Happy Trio prevailed for Douglas Whyte in the first section of the Club Handicap (1200m), while Harry Bentley sealed his fourth win since the beginning of 2024 as the Ricky Yiu-trained Watch Buddy denied Raging Blizzard in the Class 3 Chater Handicap (1200m).

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday (21 January) with the running of the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m).

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