Galaxy Witness swaps Derby for dirt as Caspar Fownes hunts gelding’s next win
Caspar Fownes is open-minded about the latter stages of Galaxy Witness’ four-year-old season as he looks to deliver another victory for the gelding’s connections.
After winning his first four starts and capping his maiden campaign with a Class Two third placing, Galaxy Witness placed three times from five runs in the lead-up to this term’s Classic Series, in which he ran fifth in the Classic Mile, third in the Classic Cup (1,800m) and 10th in the Derby (2,000m).
One of Galaxy Witness’ early-season placings came over 1,200m on the all-weather track, and he will tackle the extended dirt mile for the first time in Wednesday night’s Class Two Sha Tin Heights Handicap (1,650m) at Sha Tin.
“He closed off really well over 1,200m [on the dirt] and he’ll be running well here. He’s an honest horse, but we don’t know what this track will be like,” Fownes said after a wet few days in Hong Kong.
“If the rain comes, it changes everything. It becomes a slush, and it’s a case of some horses really getting through it and others who don’t want a bar of it. Going into the meeting, I thought I had three winning chances, but now you need luck.
“He’s got no gate speed, so [barrier 10] doesn’t matter. He’s just going to be back where he is and closing off well. He’s come back all right [after the Derby], and he’s got a couple of races left him in this campaign.
“He’s deserving of a win. He’s come off some nice runs this season without winning after
winning his first four last season. Hopefully, we can get a win for the owner before the season is out.”
While Fownes is hopeful he has found a nice race for Galaxy Witness’ first run since March 19’s Derby, he is keeping his options open with a galloper whose four wins came on the Sha Tin turf.
“I thought this was a nice comeback race for him because he’s handled the dirt in the past. Then we can just play around with his distance. He’s also trialled OK at Happy Valley, so we can look at taking him there before the season is out,” Fownes said.
Among Galaxy Witness’ toughest opponents in the midweek fixture’s closing feature are Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s hat-trick seeker Hava Nageela, Pierre Ng Pang-chi’s dirt specialist Apache Pass and the Benno Yung Tin-pang-trained Handsome Twelve, who boasts three wins and two seconds from his past seven starts on the all-weather.
Fownes is also hopeful he can make an impact elsewhere on Wednesday night’s all-dirt card.
“El Valiente has come up with gate 13, but he’s been very consistent all season. Perfect Team goes on the dirt for the first time and looks quite nice. He’s trialled well, but again he’s drawn gate 13. And I actually thought Handsome Guys would get his chance for the first time,” said the 55-year-old handler, who sits sixth in the trainers’ championship on 42 wins after 68 of 2022-23’s 88 meetings.
Fownes also saddles Lucky Banner, Chrysos and Winning Icey.
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