Explosive Witness Returns Today

Happy Valley - today at 12h45

While a Gr3 victor at his Sha Tin last start, Explosive Witness (133lb) has proven a formidable force at Happy Valley and trainer Caspar Fownes is optimistic of improving his already impressive record at the city circuit.

“That’s correct (to opting for this race instead of the Gr1 Centenary Sprint Cup), I looked at the programme, he’s got a great course and distance record so we may as well we take him back to the track he has done good things at,” Fownes said.

Explosive Witness has won four out of his last five starts. (Pic- HKJC)

The Star Witness gelding scored in the Gr3 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy Handicap (1000m) last month and while the Gr1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) on 24 January seemed a likely next step, Fownes opted against it, instead plotting this race for his Australian-bred bay.

“He’s going great guns, he’s big and strong he just seems to keep on progressing and on paper this looked a good race for him even though he’s carrying top-weight but he looks like he is ready to go to the races again,” Fownes said.

“He’s had a lot of issues, it’s well-documented but like anything over here once horses start to toughen up and get over those niggling problems they can have you can actually start to train them and give them a full prep which is what we have been able to do with him.

“It’s been wonderful because the owners have been really patient, I appreciate that and it’s paid off well, he’s won four out of his last five starts and obviously he has a chance to give it a big run again on Wednesday.”

The 99-rater spent 22 days at Conghua before returning on 27 January, after tuning up at the Mainland Training Facility in a recent 800m grass trial when crossing the line second to stablemate Guy Dragon.

“Alexis (Badel) gets on well with him, so if the speed is genuine and he’s just in the spot where he can get into a nice rhythm then I’m sure he’ll give us that late sectional that he’s got,” the handler said.

The six-year-old breaks from gate three against nine rivals including Shining Ace (127lb), Hong Kong Bet (124lb), Massive Pocket (119lb), Multimillion (117lb), California Concord (115lb) and Larson (115lb).

Also among the field is Grateful heart (122lb), an impressive three-time winner this season who faces Class 2 for the first time after demolishing his rivals by a comfortable two and a half lengths last time out.

Grateful Heart is a three-time winner from his last four starts. (Pic- HKJC)

The Written Tycoon gelding pairs with reigning champion jockey Zac Purton tomorrow night, who this season has combined for 12 wins with trainer Danny Shum.

With 39 wins, Fownes leads the trainers’ championship but his margin at the top has been reduced by the in-form John Size, who sits on 37 having trained 14 winners through January.

“John Size is absolutely flying and good on him, I’m glad he’s chasing me hard and you know it’s going to be an exciting finish, I still think I have a lot of ammunition left.

“John is a great trainer and he’s had so many premierships and I’ve just had a little bit of a frustrating run these last few weeks,” Fownes said.

Fownes has saddled five winners through January as well as an exasperating 13 seconds.

Wednesday’s nine-race fixture at Happy Valley kicks off at 12h45 with the second section of the Class 4 Shek Kip Mei Handicap (1200m).

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