A 79-hour back-up and a change of tactics comprise Caspar Fownes’ latest cunning plan aimed at turning money muncher Amazing News into a Hong Kong winner.
Win-only punters have done their dough 27 times on Amazing News since he arrived in Hong Kong a couple of years ago after his two victories in four starts for United Kingdom-based trainer George Scott.
Local loss number 27 occurred in Sunday’s first race at Happy Valley when Keith Yeung Ming-lun positioned Amazing News three back on the fence from gate 10 but the serial non-winner did not overtake a horse in the straight and was fourth past the post.
For his crimes against exasperated connections and punters alike, Amazing News finds himself among the 11 starters for Wednesday’s second event at Happy Valley, the Class Five Tai Lam Chung Handicap (1,800m), only 79 hours after he followed Circuit Spiritanto, Flash Famous and Sure Win Win across the line over a shorter trip.
It is not the first time Fownes has declared Amazing News for races within a week of each other – the five-year-old galloper has backed up off four days once and seven days twice – but never has the gap been as little as three days and an afternoon.
Fownes thinks Amazing News has “got 20 points at least in hand” – the 31-rated horse has
placed off marks as high as 68 – but getting him to give 100 per cent on the track is testing his patience.
“He hasn’t done what he’s capable of doing. The spot was there, so I said, ‘OK, I’ll back him up’. He’s a tough horse. There’s no reason he can’t cop it,” said Fownes, who boasts an excellent record with gallopers making appearances in quick succession.
“It’s been a while [since I backed up a horse], but when I do, I’m at like 80 per cent them running in the first three, so it’s not an issue at all. Especially at that grade with a horse like him who’s seriously underperformed in Hong Kong. He’s got 20 points at least in hand, and he still hasn’t woken up.”
Eight hundred and sixty-five days have passed since Amazing News kept on strongly to win over seven furlongs at Newmarket for his former connections.
Over the journey, Fownes has experimented with seven different types of gear on Amazing News. Unbeknown to Amazing News, though, his trainer has another trick up his sleeve, one he intends to instruct bang-in-form jockey Yeung to use on Wednesday.
“He doesn’t want to do it, so we might try something different. He’s got ear plugs and pacifiers – he’s had everything, including the kitchen sink – but it’s him, he has a lend of you. There’ll be a change of tactics. He’ll be going forward,” Fownes said.
Yeung, who has ridden a winner at each of the past three meetings, believes Fownes could be onto something with his radical tactical rethink.
“That would be a good idea. He’s been a little bit laid back lately, so maybe riding him more aggressively might help him,” Yeung said.
“He’s a tough horse. I work him in the mornings. I think [the back up] will do him good, especially the step up to 1,800m. I think that’ll suit him.”
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