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Legacy grows as Caspar Fownes nets 1,100 Hong Kong wins

April 18, 2024 at 4:29:23 AM

The Fownes name has been synonymous with Hong Kong racing across the past 40-plus years and Caspar, son of former trainer Lawrie, became only the fourth horseman after John Moore (1,735), John Size (1,535) and Tony Cruz (1,502) to reach 1,100 Hong Kong wins on Wednesday night (17 April) at Happy Valley.

The Fownes name has been synonymous with Hong Kong racing across the past 40-plus years and Caspar, son of former trainer Lawrie, became only the fourth horseman after John Moore (1,735), John Size (1,535) and Tony Cruz (1,502) to reach 1,100 Hong Kong wins on Wednesday night (17 April) at Happy Valley.

Assistant to his late father for several seasons, Fownes, 56, gained his licence in 2003/04 and since then he has been crowned Hong Kong Champion Trainer four times: 2006/07, 2008/09, 2013/14 and 2020/21. He is best known for handling top talents Lucky Nine, Sky Field, The Duke, Southern Legend, Super Satin, Sky Darci and Green Birdie.

“It’s a nice number and we’ll keep trying to build on that and hopefully we can get to where we want to get. We’re happy and it’s good that Ronan (Fownes) is with me now, learning the game, so it’s been a bit more special to have my young man with me. It’s nice and all in all it’s a nice team effort,” Fownes said.

The milestone came as Ellis Wong capped a double atop Kaholo Angel in the first section of the Class 3 Bowen Handicap (1200m).

“It’s very special and to get it with the young lad, my indentured apprentice Ellis, it was good. It’s kind of funny because we felt looking at the race that we would jump and use our gate speed and go forward and see what happens,” Fownes said.

“I said to the kid though, when you’re out there you have got to ride these races and start to think for yourself, for whatever reason you don’t ping the gates or they just come out a little bit tardy, always go to ‘Plan B’ and learn a little bit yourself, which was good.

“He did the right thing there and gave the horse a nice chance. He was electrifying over the last part – it’s nice to see that.”

Known as the long-time ‘King of the Valley’, Fownes has 596 wins at the city circuit, which includes a famous six-win afternoon in 2010.

The trainer is readying Straight Arron for a HK$28 million G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) tilt at Sha Tin on FWD Champions Day (Sunday, 28 April) after the horse finished sixth in the G1 Dubai Turf (1800m) at Meydan last month.

“I’m happy with him. He came out of quarantine on Monday (15 April) and he had a bit of pace work yesterday morning. The plan is to bring him here (Happy Valley) on Friday (19 April) for a trial. Just to keep him nice and ticking over.

“Obviously, you hope they can come back nicely, especially from what I felt was a nice effort in Dubai, a brave effort against some of the best horses. At 2000 metres, we hope that we can run in the first four and just be competitive,” Fownes said.

Wong also scored aboard Super Axiom in the Class 5 Stubbs Handicap (1000m) for trainer Me Tsui.

Jerry Chau and Danny Shum collected doubles. The duo combined with Exuberant in the second section of the Class 4 Mount Butler Handicap (1200m).

Shum prevailed again with Flying Silver in the Class 4 Siu Ma Shan Handicap (1800m) thanks to a sweet ride from Angus Chung, who also bagged a brace.

Shum concedes the HK$22 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) is a big test for Victor The Winner: “He’s good. It’s hard to beat California Spangle, he’s too good.”

Romantic Warrior is aiming to become the first horse in history to record three wins in the FWD QEII Cup following his victories in 2022 and 2023.

“He’s very fit, he’s very good and he’s doing well. I’m expecting him to run a very good race,” Shum said.

Chung moved to within one of the 70-win graduation mark as Superb Capitalist pinched the second section of the Class 3 Bowen Handicap (1200m) for trainer Tony Cruz.

Matthew Chadwick bounced to the front aboard California Touch and was never headed, pilfering the first section of the Class 4 Mount Butler Handicap (1200m) for trainer Cody Mo.

Following 10 top-three finishes, Turin Warrior grasped an overdue first Hong Kong win for Karis Teetan and trainer Manfred Man in the Class 4 Mount Cameron Handicap (1650m).

Northern Beast, a son of Maurice, recorded a breakthrough victory for Hugh Bowman and trainer David Hall in the Class 5 Wan Chai Gap Handicap (1650m). The four-year-old overhauled a determined Big Two by three quarters of a length.

“He deserved the win. He’s been a consistent horse, he lost form at the back end of last year but he’s been showing signs of regaining his own form. He’s better than Class 5 – it wasn’t a dominant win but I thought it had a lot of merit,” Bowman said.

Zoom Boom closed out the midweek programme with victory in the Class 3 Magazine Gap Handicap (1650m) under Harry Bentley for trainer Douglas Whyte.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Saturday (20 April).

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