Lollipop tastes extra sweet for Fownes
While Caspar Fownes was receiving plenty of attention by day's end for his treble and a win in one of the day's features with Green Birdie, the real feather in his cap might have arrived with a less-distinguished winner.
The successful rider Zac Purton paid tribute to Fownes' handling of Lollipop, who took the second event at his first run for 10 months after a bleeding attack and numerous other problems along the way.
'That was a great training effort. Lollipop was fully ready despite the long break and Caspar asked me to ride him confidently and go forward from the awkward gate and he was just too good,' said Purton. 'He did all the work and they couldn't run him down.'
Fownes said the bleeding attack in Lollipop's last race in April last year was far from the end of the physical issues which have held the four-year-old back.
'He also had a fractured joint so it hasn't been plain sailing with him,' Fownes said.
'But his fresh runs in the past have been good, his work was good and he's been scoping clean so I had a bit of confidence he could run a race first-up and just the last week or two his coat has really come good.
'All I said to Zac was to make his own luck and get forward and see what happened. When he got there, they left him alone and that was enough.'
Fownes' final winner, Gallant Lion, was also breaking his maiden status in the Grand Delight Handicap (1,400m), but he had been a frustration for his owners for different reasons.
'He hasn't been with me that long but he has run well every time,' Fownes said.
'It's just frustrating that getting back in the field like he does, he will always need some luck but he's finished that race off brilliantly with a clear run down the outside.
'Things worked out well today, but in the past he's got stuck in traffic.'
Fownes does have plans for the gelding, whose win off an 89-rating will now make him eligible to run in the Group Three Hong Kong-Macau Trophy on March 1 over the same course.
'That's for horses with a rating of 90 to 115 so he'll have the required points after this and I think it will suit him,' Fownes said.
'Gallant Lion and my other horse Ferro Beau both came with similar form from Perth but they've both taken their time to strike form here. Now that this guy has won one, I'm hoping he can go on with it because he has plenty of ability.'