Caspar Fownes celebrates his 600th Happy Valley win. Photo by HKJC.

Caspar Fownes notches Happy Valley milestone as Cruz, Chung fire

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

13/06/2024

By Leo Schlink, for the HKJC.

 

Caspar Fownes reached another towering Happy Valley milestone on Wednesday night (12 June) with a record-extending 600th victory at the city circuit as Angus Chung bolstered hopes of clinching the Tony Cruz Award for the leading home-grown Hong Kong jockey with a double.

Four-time Hong Kong champion Fownes – revered as the ‘King of the Valley’ for his success at Happy Valley – clocked up his 600th win with Charming Steed’s win in the Class 5 Aster Handicap (1650m).

Well rated by apprentice Ellis Wong, the Hong Kong International Sale graduate slotted his second win from his past three attempts – at his 15th start of the season. Fownes, who has also saddled 510 wins at Sha Tin for a career haul of 1,110, was delighted at reaching the 600-win mark.

“It’s massive, it’s such a big number and I’m going to keep on building on that over the next few years, hopefully, and I’m very happy,” Fownes said. “I’ve had a lot of support from my owners, my family and my stable staff. It’s wonderful.”

Fownes has saddled more winners at Happy Valley than other trainer since the advent of professional racing in Hong Kong in 1971/72, having previously eclipsed John Moore’s record of 530 wins at the track.

Chung and Cruz combined with a double with Flying Wrote and Outgate as Chung edged closer to clinching the Tony Cruz Award. The 27-year-old has 46 wins for the campaign, 12 more than Vincent Ho with only eight meetings left in the season.

“I’m looking for that (Tony Cruz Award) and hopefully I’m keeping the performance and at the end of the season I can still be leading the Tony Cruz Award,” Chung said after partnering Outgate to victory in the Class 2 EWO Challenge Trophy Handicap (1650m).

“Very happy (with the double). Outgate is in very good form. I expected the pace would be quicker but I trusted the horse and waited for the last part and the sprint and he did very well.”

A four-time winner in England before export to Hong Kong, Outgate took time to adjust to his new surroundings.

“He’s still quite lightly-raced and if you look back at his early days in Hong Kong he always had problems and health issues,” Cruz said. “He was a horse who was always going to bloom late because he didn’t acclimatise straight away. Now he’s an improving horse and there’s still improvement to come – Group 3 maybe is the maximum for him.”

Cruz and Chung also scored with Flying Wrote in the Class 4 Dianthus Handicap (1200m) before Cruz moved into the third place in the 2023/24 Hong Kong trainers’ championship behind Pierre Ng (61) and Francis Lui (61) with 53 wins following Red Hare King’s success for Hugh Bowman in the Class 3 Chamomile Handicap (1650m).

Bowman also struck with Danny Shum-trained Comet Splendido in the Class 4 Bellflower Handicap (1650m) to post his second course and distance victory before Lucky Archangel snared the Class 3 Thistle Handicap (1200m) under Matthew Poon for Frankie Lor.

Keith Yeung strengthened his successful association with Chris So-trained Jubilation when gelding charged from last on the turn to land the Class 4 Camelia Handicap (1800m) after pre-race plans were thrown into disarray with a sluggish start.

“He’s a lovely horse, very, very honest and always gives his best,” said Yeung, who has been aboard the gelding in all five of his Hong Kong wins. “He didn’t jump well today. We were planning to go forward, maybe as a leader or just behind the leader.

“But he was awkward out of the gate, so I decided to take him back and just switch him off and he responded really well at the top of the straight and he got them nicely.”

Red Elegance surged late under Matthew Chadwick to win the Class 4 Heather Handicap (1000m) for Douglas Whyte before Youthful Spirits claimed a PP Bonus of HK$1.5 million with a strong performance in the Class 3 Violet Handicap (1000m) under Zac Purton for Mark Newnham.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Saturday (15 June) with a twilight meeting starting at 4pm.

 

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