TRAINER Caspar Fownes is the man to follow when racing at Happy Valley gets underway with a tricky eight-race programme starting at 11.10am today.
‘The King of the Valley’ Fownes has his stable firing on all cylinders at present, with winners at the last three meetings, and he notably saddled Straight Arron to win the Group Two BOCHK Jockey Club Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.
As per normal, Fownes, who is chasing runaway leader Pierre Ng in the trainers’ title race with 15 wins so far, saddles a host of raiders at his favourite track and will surely be disappointed if he comes away empty handed.
The likes of Charming Steed in the opening Tai Lam Chung Handicap (11.10am) over six furlongs, and Sugar Sugar, looking for a change of fortune in the High Island Handicap (2.50pm) over six furlongs, are both clearly capable of adding to the stable’s eight winners at the circuit this season.
More of interest, however, is when Fownes teams up with jockey Vincent Ho on a couple of the stable’s gallopers during the action.
The partnership of Fownes and Ho have already been a combination to follow since the jockey returned to action in the middle of September, yielding five wins and eight places from just 21 rides.
Ho climbs aboard the unpredictable but clearly talented M UNICORN in the Tai Tam Handicap (12.10pm) over the extended mile, and will be hoping the five-year-old reproduces his winning form when putting clear daylight between himself and subsequent winner Winning Data over the course and distance in September.
For some inexplicable reason the son of Savabeel didn’t fire when only fourth three weeks later, but a recent trial with Ho in the saddle suggests he is back to his best and he will take plenty of beating.
Ho reunites with top-weight JUMBO LEGEND in the Plover Cove Handicap (1.45pm) over six furlongs, having ridden the five-year-old twice to victory just over a year ago.
The son of Hinchinbrook suffered a health issue in June and needed throat surgery but made a belated course reappearance last month when finishing strongly for third place behind Mr Valiant over five furlongs.
Guaranteed to step up on that form now racing over his optimum trip, he just needs to have some luck to resume winning form.
With seven rides on the card, Ho is also capable of going close on the Danny Shum-trained DENFIELD in the High Island Handicap (2.50pm).
The Australian-bred son of Deep Field, who cost a fortune at the HK International Sales, suffered a desperate journey when starting as favourite but disappointing earlier this month.
With an inside draw in stall two in his favour this time, he is set for a dream journey, and should go close off joint bottom-weight.
M Unicorn 12.10pm Happy Valley
Jumbo Legend 1.45pm Happy Valley
Denfield 2.50pm Happy Valley