Fownes celebrates with 280-1 double
Popular trainer Lawrie Fownes made a bullish start to the Year Of The Ox with a long-priced double at Sha Tin yesterday.
It was no surprise to see the trainer beaming as he left the course, having seen Port Hope (10-1), and outsider Majulah Superstar (28-1), easily see off the opposition in their respective events.
'I can say the same thing about both of them. After recent starts and work they have not scoped clean, there has been a touch of mucus and that has accounted for a couple of below-par runs.
'In the case of Port Hope, I thought his win as a two-year-old last season was a bonus for the owner, because progeny of Grosvenor take a bit of time. But this is the first time he has been really right. When we scoped him he was absolutely clean as a whistle,' said Fownes, who invariably hits his target of winners every season.
Port Hope blitzed a Class Three field in the 1,800-metre fifth event, clearing right away in the final stages to post a length and three-quarter win over Active Way (6-1) who had no answer to the winner's finishing power.
It was also the first leg of a double for stable jockey Wendyll Woods.
Helene Treasure (5-1), who has had his problems over the past couple of seasons, finished third, while favourite Super Goal Star (4-1) looks as if he needs longer. He finished fourth.
Majulah Superstar came home strongly in the Class Five ninth event to record a half-length win over substantially supported Light And Bright (3-1 favourite), medium of a late plunge.
When the favourite hit the front in the last 100 metres it looked as if Danny Lee was going to record his first winner of the season, but Woods swooped on the winner and it was over in a stride.
'His work had been very good, but it really came down to him being clear when we scoped him. 'Nobody feels like running when they are clogged up with the cold, whether you're human or equine,' said Fownes, whose tally for the season is now 21 winners.
Long-serving Bruce Hutchison started the Lunar New Year in exactly the right way with a winner.
It has been a tough season for the Australian, who has fought back from a horrific car smash and subsequent surgery.
Word From Rome (8-1) has been with Hutchison for some time, and in recent starts has been knocking on the door. His turn came yesterday when Piere Strydom, completing a double, got him up by a short head from Cossack (12-1) in the eighth event.
Word From Rome was on the pace throughout, and the South African kicked him clear half-way down the straight, but only just held off Cossack, who seemed to relish the slight ease in the ground.
The unlucky runner was Toy Symphony (7-2), who was blocked for room then switched inside and finished on top of them. He is up to winning in Class Four.
Strydom initiated the double with Professionalkiller (4-1 favourite) in the Class Four, 1,400-metre fourth event, where he won handily from Win Happiness (8-1) and Zeus (12-1).
Professionalkiller, trained by Ricky P. F. Yiu, has always shaped as a useful horse, but working out his best distance seemed a problem.
He won this well enough and is sure to be suited by longer.
Again, trainer David Hill, who has Toy Symphony, could look to runner-up Win Happiness and feel a little hard done by.
Win Happiness, with stable claimer John M. C. Poon up, missed the kick by six lengths and was flying at the line.
The apprentice did very well to get him up for second, weaving through and hitting him perfectly in stride. An ounce of luck at the start and he could have been celebrating a winner.