Rich Dragon and Ferro Beau revel in wet conditions
It was rain-assisted bookends for Caspar Fownes, despite the Jockey Club narrowly avoiding the onset of real rainstorms during the race meeting.
A minor shower stopped just prior to the first race Fownes won with Rich Dragon (Jacky Tong Chi-kit), and the club managed to get through to Brett Prebble returning to scale on the narrow final winner, the Fownes-trained Ferro Beau, before the heavens duly opened.
'Always nice to have a couple of winners and the rain that we did have before the day certainly helped them both,' said Fownes, who showed some swiftness on his feet with Rich Dragon's win at his first attempt over 1,600m.
'He ran a cracking race last week at 1,200m, and when the race fell away in the nominations, I threw him in.
'Rich Dragon was going great at 1,400m when he first came here then he had knee problems and I restricted him to sprinting last season.
'But I just felt with the small field in the mile today, there might be a slow pace and this was probably the time to test him at it. Having the sting out of the ground certainly helped him to stretch right out.'
To some extent, Fownes' later winner, Ferro Beau has not delivered in 23 starts, despite three wins early in his career, but the time he took to acclimatise might wind up with him paying a dividend for his well-known owner, Cynthia Pong Hong Siu-chu, who has also won with High Mark already this season.
'You know they all came from the same crop of three-year-olds in Western Australia - Gallant Lion, Tom's Six and Ferro Beau,' explained Fownes, who had produced Ferro Beau first-up from a heart irregularity in May.
'They used to race against each other over there and were fairly close. Gallant Lion is now rated over 100, Tom's Six is on 96 but because this guy took a while to find form, he's won today off 76.
'He was frankly a pain in the backside that first season because he just wouldn't fire, but having got down so low before he did start to win races, that makes me think - hope anyway - that there is a little bit of room for his rating to improve.'
Ferro Beau prevailed narrowly over Douglas Whyte's very heavily supported Many Gains in a tight finish, and Fownes momentarily felt that nod might not go his way.
'He should have won one last season and the bob didn't go his way but it did today,' he said.
'The give in the ground helped - he thrives on it.'
Prebble said he also felt that not having trialled Ferro Beau had been a masterstroke: 'He just gives you the feeling that keeping him fresh is how he enjoys racing.'
The pair took Fownes to six wins for the term and kept Prebble in joint top spot on the jockeys' table with Darren Beadman and Howard Cheng Yue-tin on nine victories.