Fownes' magic touch to cast Valley spell
ONE of the best systems in racing has been to follow horses moving to the Lawrie Fownes' academy. A change in stable, for whatever reason, generally revitalises a horse. Even some of the most unlikely stable changes pay dividends as was seen on Sunday when Way Ahead, having his first start for Kenny Kam since leaving Brian Kan, simply poodled home. But few moves are so potent as the journey across Sha Tin to the Fownes stable.
The list of horses that have improved since moving to him includes Enthusiasm, Majulah Superstar, Plenty Cash, Speedy Kid, Super Bingo II, Super Hero and Trust Myself. It makes for impressive reading and is a real credit to Fownes' professionalism. Tomorrow night's Happy Valley meeting could see another name added to the roll call. Splendid Timing is the horse in question and he is having his second start for the former champion trainer of Calcutta.
The headstrong English import contests the sixth event, a modest looking Class Three dash round the minimum sprint trip of 975 metres. There can be no doubt that Splendid Timing, while still being on the temperamental side, has settled down a good deal since joining Fownes for the start of this season. He ran a good third to Got It Made first time out over 1,200 metres, where he had the speed to lead and he should not be inconvenienced at all by the drop back in distance.
The draw is another thing. He must jump from barrier 10, but this field is likely to get pretty strung out with such flying machines as Echo and Shanghai Star sure to set a cracking pace. This should allow Mosse to bring Splendid Timing into the race without having to sit parked out wide, covering extra ground. And there has been much to like about Splendid Timing's recent work, not least his work from the barriers yesterday morning when he clocked a solid 800 metres in 46.0 seconds in even time.
It could well be a very big night for the Fownes camp.
His jockey, Gerald Mosse is in peak form following a treble at Sha Tin on Sunday and the distinct impression from trackwork is that the Fownes horses are just starting to peak. His runner in the opening event, Smart Boy, has a form chance second to none in the race and his half length third to Rare View last time is working out well as the runner-up, Good Health, has won convincingly since. Yesterday, Smart Boy was his usual self from the barriers.
He looks to be spot on. The fourth event sees another top chance for Fownes and Mosse who combine for the out-and-out stayer, Money Fountain.
Last time out Money Fountain had no luck in running on the equitrack when trapped on the inside when Tony Cruz, riding an excellent race, kicked Everbright to the front travelling over the Rock for the second time.
But Money Fountain has held his form very well at trackwork since then and will benefit from the return to the grass surface.
Yesterday, he certainly looked well in himself as he came through 1,200 metres in a comfortable one minute and 26.2 seconds. Sky Eagle has also been working well for this and should be kept safe at big odds in the Double Trio at least. He did not handle the equitrack surface last time, nor for that matter did Figure It Out. Fownes and Mosse have a bit of a dark contender in the shape of Good Dividend in the fifth. He is probably a bit short of peak fitness and the belated nature of his seasonal debut suggests he had a troubled preparation.
But his most recent work, including a trial, has been encouraging and he could surprise. Likely favourite, Acquisition, is going to be hard to beat, though. He enjoyed a searching workout from the barriers yesterday and is a progressive type whose style of working and racing suggests the move up in distance to a mile should suit him ideally.