Plotting a third BMW Hong Kong Derby conquest, Caspar Fownes will unveil Classics contender Awesome Fluke in the Class 3 Salisbury Handicap at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Rated 77 after winning the Gr2 WATC Derby at Ascot Racecourse on 8 April, Awesome Fluke will carry 130lb this week after Alfred Chan’s 5lb-claim as Fownes sets a path to the 2024 BMW Hong Kong Derby on 24 March.
Previously trained by John O’Shea in Sydney, Awesome Fluke raced as Awesome John in Australia where he won three races from 1600m to 2400m from 13 starts.
Bidding to add to his stable’s BMW Hong Kong Derby honour roll of Super Satin in 2010 and Sky Darci in 2021, Fownes has modest initial expectations ahead of his newcomer’s debut.
“Awesome Fluke looks like a real staying proposition – 1400 (metres) first-up is going to be on the sharp side – but you would like to see him taking some ground off them late, that would be nice,” Fownes said.
“He looks like a dead-set 2000m to 2400m horse. On his trials and everything, he sorted of stayed through the line strong. Let’s see on Sunday, the racing pace up front might suit him and just make him hit the line better.
“He’s starting on a rating of 77 and you just like to see them hopefully after a couple of races adjust to Hong Kong’s tempo and put the writing on the wall with a win. Hopefully, once you get to a rating of 85, you’re there.”
Since joining Fownes’ stable, Awesome Fluke has had five trials for his new trainer with the latest over 1700m at Happy Valley on 25 November when fourth behind Legion Of Merit.
With 16 wins so far this season, Fownes is fifth in the trainers’ championship and will saddle eight runners on Sunday at Sha Tin including Kurpany, who contests the Class 2 The Peninsula Golden Jubilee Challenge Cup under Ellis Wong.
“It’s nice that the handicapping department are looking at these races and making a couple of changes so that horses can get an opportunity to race. He’s rated 102, he’s a very honest horse, he handles the dirt surface well, he’s got a 10-pound claim on and I just think he’ll make his presence felt on that surface,” Fownes said
“He should be a first-three chance.”
Sunday’s 10-race Sha Tin meeting starts at 07h00 with the Class 5 Ashley Handicap.