Caspar Fownes turns to jockeys’ premiership leader Joao Moreira and current champion jockey Zac Purton on Wednesday night at Happy Valley as he bids to put an end to a frustrating return of two wins against 10 second placings from 58 runners this season.
Fownes has assigned five of his six mid-week runners to Hong Kong’s ‘big two’, with Moreira booked for Green Luck (132lb) in the Class 2 Japan Racing Association Trophy Handicap (1650m), the night’s feature event.
Green Luck went around as 2/1 favourite first-up over this course and distance with Moreira in the saddle, and the son of Street Cry delivered with ease in course record time, giving Fownes his first win this term. The five-year-old followed that with a fair fourth over 1800m at the track.
“He’s pulled up really well, he’s put on some body weight and we’ll take our chances again back to 1650 (metres) where he holds the course record,” Fownes said.
“It was a small field the other day so I opted to take a chance in there at 1800 (metres), it just didn’t work out, he should have a run bit better and if you look at the replay he probably does run a length and a half to two lengths closer with the right run.”
Green Luck and Joao Moreira, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Having delivered both of Fownes’ wins this season, Moreira will be aboard three of the handler’s entries. He retakes the reins on Green Luck from Vincent Ho.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t able to be on him last time because Caspar (Fownes) backed him up quite quickly and I had taken a ride in that race already,” Moreira explained.
“The shorter distance is suitable for him as we saw he was able to perform right away at his first run for the season, while clocking good time.”
The season so far has brought a noticeable resurgence in the partnership between Moreira and Fownes, mainly due to the Brazilian no longer being retained to the John Size stable.
This has allowed the pair to combine nine times already for two wins, striking at 22%, ahead of last season’s strike rate of 17% which was achieved from 12 rides, producing two wins, across the 88-meeting schedule.
“It looks like he will run a good race and if he keeps on bringing his best form he’s surely a chance,” Moreira said.
Moreira and Fownes also team up with Naboo Star (128lb) in the Class 4 Hanshin Handicap (1650m) and last-start winner Shamport (128lb) in the Class 4 Nakayama Handicap (1200m).
Meanwhile, Purton has long enjoyed strong support from Fownes but is winless in 13 rides for the stable this term, although they have had four seconds and two third-place finishes together. The duo combined for 17 wins from 109 rides last season, striking at 16%, and also bagged the Kranji Mile success of Southern Legend.
Purton rides the unbeaten Snap Fit (121lb) in the night’s finale, the Class 3 Kyoto Handicap (1000m), as well as Aurora Pegasus (124lb) for Fownes in the Class 4 Nakayama Handicap (1200m).
“Snap Fit is a pretty straightforward horse, I really believe you’ll see the best of him when he steps up even further, 1200 and 1400, but being fresh I just picked this race,” Fownes said.
Purton rode the unbeaten Snap Fit in both his races last season, including his nine-point ratings rise success at his final run.
“He’s obviously a horse that’s been plagued with problems, his runs have been spaced, he’s gone to the races and performed well, it gets harder here but he’s drawn alright,” Purton said.
Snap Fit steps up to Class 3 company for the first time at start three following his two previous wins at the course and distance.
“If Caspar (Fownes) can keep him sound I’m sure he’ll acquit himself well, his two efforts have been good, he’s going to get a nice run on the back of the speed so we’ll see if he’s good enough,” the Australian ace said.
Snap Fit had throat surgery in mid-2018 to correct a respiratory issue commonly known as a “roaring” condition, which decreases airflow into the lungs.
“Everything is back on track, obviously with the roaring condition he had surgery and the vet Paul Robinson did a great job, he got the horse back and he’s obviously performing without pain and exceptionally well, so hopefully he can continue this season and snag a few more races for the stable,” Fownes added.
Amazing Luck (115lb) will step out against Snap Fit in Wednesday’s finale