SAJA Graduates Amongst Winners At Sha Tin

Next Hong Kong meeting on Wednesday 24 April

Preparing Straight Arron for a HK$28 million Gr1 FWD QEII Cup tilt in eight days, Caspar Fownes claimed training honours at Sha Tin on Saturday with a treble as the four-time Hong Kong champion crowned a memorable week.

SA Jockey Academy graduates Karis Teetan, Lyle Hewitson and Keagan de Melo were also amongst the winners.

After becoming only the fourth trainer in Hong Kong history to reach the 1,100 win milestone behind John Moore (1,715), John Size (1,535) and Tony Cruz (1,502) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (17 April), Fownes struck with Charming Steed, Galvanic and Sky Heart to sweep to 40 winners for the season.

Caspar Fownes – in form ahead of the big day on 28 April (Pic – HKJC)

“The horses have been racing well all season, it just hasn’t been coming together but we don’t lose our cool – that’s why we’re in this business, it’s the greatest leveller of all time,” Fownes said.

“So, we just knuckle down and keep presenting the horses in good condition and you just hope it turns our way. Hopefully that (today’s treble) is the start of the turning tide. The horses have been racing well. They deserve a bit more luck, the draws haven’t worked for us.

“We were a bit unlucky with Joy Of Spring earlier, we should have had a four-timer, but any time in Hong Kong that you’re winning two or three races, you are happy with that result because it’s getting tougher over here.”

Caspar Fownes and Vincent Ho struck with Hong Kong International Sale graduate Charming Steed in the Class 5 Racing For Charity Handicap (1650m, dirt) before Fownes sealed a brace when Ellis Wong took a narrow gap on the rails aboard Galvanic to sail clear before hanging on by a neck in the Class 4 Positive Ageing Handicap.

Fownes bookended the meeting with Sky Heart’s impressive victory in the Class 3 Sustainability Handicap under Keith Yeung.

Alexis Badel fired in a double on C P Brave in the Class 2 Advancing Culture & Sports Handicap (1800m) for Ricky Yiu and Solid Impact in the Class 3 Nurturing Talent Handicap (1200m) to give David Hall his 30th success for the season.

“C P Brave is a very pleasant ride, his form over the course and distance is impeccable and I was very keen to ride him because I believed he would be a great chance in this race,” the Frenchman said. “Eventually the ground helped him a little bit but he is a quality horse.

“Solid Impact is a brilliant horse, he’s got a great heart, he tries very hard. From the draw (barrier 10) and with the weight (126lb), it was difficult to imagine such a good performance, but it was a pretty smooth race and it was a great effort.”

Yiu also logged a brace after Multisuper broke through in style to post his victory in the Class 4 Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Trophy (1000m) under Lyle Hewitson.

Sing Dragon posted his third successive course and distance victory in the Class 3 Institute Of Philanthropy Handicap (1200m, dirt) for Mark Newnham and Karis Teetan, who also celebrated a double.

“He’s had five runs in Hong Kong and won three on the bounce and I don’t think he’s just an all-weather horse. I don’t think he’s one dimensional and he showed he’s got more to his armoury than just leading today. He’s done a really good job,” Newnham said.

Teetan also struck on when Cody Mo’s Celtic Times prevailed at his 22nd Hong Kong start in the Class 4 Healthy Community Handicap (1600m), having won twice as a two-year-old in Ireland in 2021 for Jim Bolger.

Chris So is excited about Sunny Da Best’s prospects after the Proisir three-year-old cruised to a three-length victory under Keagan De Melo in the Class 4 JC Project Lift Handicap (1400m).

“Very good horse – every jockey that sits on him likes him. I can’t tell if he’s a star, but he should be a lot of fun,” So said. “You see the (sectional) times were really good. I really hope he can keep improving and bring us more fun.”

Keagan de Melo steers Sammy Da Best home (Pic – HKJC)

Sunny Da Best clocked 22.19s from the 1200m to 800m and closed off with a 22.66s sectional for the final 400m.

Douglas Whyte said seven-year-old Valiant Elegance might have postponed retirement with a narrow victory for Antoine Hamelin in the Class 4 Empowering Youth Handicap (1200m, dirt).

“He’s just been amazing – he’s had a wind operation and he’s now won eight races for my stable and he’s as honest as the day is long,” Whyte said. “We considered retiring him after his last race and since that race he’s come back to the yard and he’s indicated that he’s done well and wasn’t ready to retire, so I spoke with owners and said ‘Let’s give him one more run and see how he goes’ and he’s come out and won again.

“He’s been an unbelievable asset to my stable. He’s an old man. We’ll probably have to give him one more run but he deserves retirement – he really does. He’s done me a good job and he deserves a good home but he’s very healthy at the moment, so we’ll give him another run.”

  • Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday night 24 April.

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