Success? It's all relative in the Fownes stable

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 September, 1996, 12:00am

Trainer Lawrie Fownes is looking forward to the new season with more confidence, expectation and peace of mind than he has done for as long as he can remember.

There is one main reason for his eagerness - the return of his nephew, Wendyll Woods, as his stable jockey.

But Fownes is adamant that this is anything but a case of 'blood is thicker than water'.

'No way,' stresses Fownes.

'I have not spent the last 10 years building up my stable in Hong Kong just to give my nephew the position as stable jockey.

'The lad is riding for me because he is a damn fine rider, because he will give me 110 per cent and because he is an absolute true blue.

'After six weeks he won't be wandering around with a bag under one arm and a mobile phone to his ear.

'We will still be communicating. He'll still be coming back to the stable every morning to discuss the horses and he'll still be sitting down to dinner with me again in the evening to discuss them.

'We have a great rapport and a great channel of communication but let me underline that he's here because we feel he is the right jockey for the job.' Woods, 33, last rode in the territory four seasons ago before returning to England, where he has averaged just over 50 winners for the past three campaigns.

Both he and Fownes feel he has matured as a rider and as a person during his time in England, where he had to rebuild his career from scratch. Woods was also married last May.

'His time in England really made him appreciate just how good the jockeys have it out here,' added Fownes.

'And getting married has, of course, settled him down.' Woods, for his part, has arrived back in town bristling with determination. He has been at the track each morning for the past three weeks and yesterday he said: 'I'm prepared to work anyone into the ground if it means getting winners for Lawrence [Fownes] or picking up outside rides.

'Spending the last four seasons in England has done me the world of good, though it was very tough at the beginning.

'I just had to knuckle down and get on with it; riding there every day, on different courses, going different ways at different paces, has made me a more complete rider.' The main difference he has noticed on his return is the upgrading of the Fownes stable.

'When I left I don't think we had one Class One horse. Lawrence was forever having to patch them up to win a race.

'Now we have five in Class One.' As for the season ahead, Woods and Fownes are confident they will be a match for anyone.