Explosive Witness ensured Caspar Fownes’ moniker as the ‘King of the Valley’ rang true at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, as the handler brought up a significant milestone with his 500th win at the city circuit in the Class 2 Chai Wan Kok Handicap (1000m).
Caspar Fownes celebrates win number 500 at the Valley, photo Hong Kong Jockey Club
Fownes has the most wins at the Valley of any active trainer on the roster, his heroics at the course include six wins in a day, and this term, he has 17 wins under the Happy Valley lights - the most of any handler this term.
“I love this track – it’s been really good to me, I’m pretty good at placing my horses here and you need a lot of luck when you come here as well,” Fownes said.
Fownes was first licensed for the 2003/04 season and he landed the first of three champion trainer titles not long after in the 2006/07 season, and among 916 Hong Kong wins in total, he’s forged a brilliant career presenting heroes of the turf like Lucky Nine, The Duke, Super Satin, Green Birdie and Southern Legend.
“This is what the game is about, whether it’s Class 5 or Group 1 – I just love it, I’m passionate, I always give it everything,” Fownes said.
The championship leading trainer takes his seasonal tally to 28 wins as he puts the foot down in his bid for a fourth title with a midweek double.
“I said to my boys at the start of the season that I’m going for it this year, I think we’ve got the horses spread across the classes and I’m just going to put the foot down and see what happens - if I win, I win and if I don’t at least I gave it my best shot,” Fownes said.
A late rally from Explosive Witness sealed Fownes’ double, the galloper, making it three wins in succession following an injury-plagued first three years in Hong Kong.
“That horse is special to me - we bought him from one run, he had a hefty price tag on him and he came here and he just drove me nuts - it broke your heart,” Fownes said.
The Australian import won on debut at Moonee Valley pre-import in March, 2017 but had to wait three years to break his duck in Hong Kong.
“Every time you’d get him prepared for a race it’d just go by the wayside and you’d just have to build him up again,” Fownes said. “He missed well over a year it was well documented and I just knew he had so much talent.
“It’s so nice to now see that when owners are patient and now he’s on his way to paying them back and he’s won his last three - he can certainly close off with a massive sectional here,” Fownes said.
The 86-rater scored at his first try in Class 2 this evening against a solid field under Alexis Badel, who earlier kicked off his double with victory aboard the Frankie Lor-trained Virtus Star in the Class 5 Yau Kom Tau Handicap (1650m).
Virtus Star gets his nose in front, photo Hong Kong Jockey Club
“The horse has been brave and courageous and he showed one more time he was very competitive and he’s in great form this season,” Badel said.
The Sebring gelding took 22 starts to snare his first Hong Kong win, and now, has three in succession and sits on the cusp of a step up to Class 4 with a pre-race rating of 31. The win was the first of a double for Lor.
The win was the first of a double for Lor, who secured the second section of the Class 4 Tai Lam Handicap (1200m) with the lightly raced Rewarding Together under Joao Moreira.
Hong Kong racing continues on Sunday at Sha Tin.