Last season’s champion trainer Caspar Fownes may be about to relinquish his title but he remains satisfied with his performance.
Despite being down on winners, Fownes has still achieved some significant milestones and big wins this season and he is now looking forward to next season as he eyes up some new blood for his stable.
“We’ve hit a few goals that we wanted to,” Fownes said. “I’ve knocked a few of those off, getting the most number of winners at Happy Valley and getting to 1,000 winners.
“We’ve won a Group One [with Sky Field in the Hong Kong Sprint] and the only one that is missing is getting to 50 [wins for the campaign]. If we get there we get there, but if not it’s shaping up quite nicely for next season.
“There’s going to be quite a few retirements and a few that I’ll be moving out so then we’ll take some stable transfers, get some new horses coming in and we should be flying.”
One of Fownes’ star performers this season has been three-year-old Galaxy Witness, who stretched his unbeaten record to four with a last-gasp success on the first day of May.
He attempts 1,600m for the first time as he steps up in grade for the Class Two Mount Cameron Handicap at Sha Tin on Sunday.
“He’s a horse you would think about for the four-year-old series next season, there is no doubt about that,” Fownes said.
“He’s stepping up in class and distance on Sunday, which I don’t think is going to be too much of a worry for him, he’s getting there.
“This will be his last run for the season. He’s been up a while now so hopefully he’ll give us one more big effort and he can then have a nice summer break to develop even further.
“It’s like anything, though – they can rack the points up in Hong Kong and all of a sudden you get to a mark where it becomes tough.”
Fownes has 11 runners on the Sha Tin card and Storm Legend looks be one of his better chances as he drops in trip for the Class Three Mount Nicholson Handicap (1,200m).
“He’s been racing really well without getting that win,” Fownes said. “I’m going to drop him back to six furlongs, put the blinkers on him and see if he can get the job done. He might just like that bit more speed and then rock up and go bang. It might just suit him.”
A couple of Fownes newcomers catch the eye as they make their racecourse debuts, with the trainer confident that Amazing Innovator will run well in the Class Four Sai Wan Shan Handicap (1,000m) after overcoming an injury at the end of last year.
“He’s had a few issues but he’s a nice horse and definitely good enough to be winning in Class Four,” Fownes said.
“It’s a tough ask first-up but he’s had a nice prep and he won’t be far away if everything goes smoothly. Whether he’ll win is a different ball game but he’ll be giving us a good run first-up.”
Fownes runs three in the Griffin race over 1,000m, with newcomer Forever Friends full of class despite giving the trainer a few hairy moments.
“The new guy trialled well at the Valley to finish fourth against older horses,” Fownes said.
“He was very naughty when he arrived, a real handful, and he’s just starting to understand what we want of him.
“He’s a bit of a character, he’s going the right way and has really turned the corner in a short period of time. He could have gone the other way and been an absolute pest but he’s going to be OK and he’ll be winning races next season.”
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