Young Elite can make up for lost time in Stewards' Cup
Caspar Fownes may have lost his main flag bearer for today's Group One Stewards' Cup (1,600m), but Young Elite can represent the yard with honour and score an upset in the Sha Tin feature.
The six-year-old has already bled twice in his career and, under Hong Kong's three strikes and out policy, the end of that career may come at any time but he has always promised to make it as a Group One horse, and he gets his chance in a tricky start to the Triple Crown.
First run back from the break forced on him after bleeding in July, Young Elite (Brett Prebble) was solid enough to finish sixth behind Little Bridge on New Year's Day over an insufficient 1,400m. Most importantly, he came out of the race well and Fownes has reported the gelding has scoped clean. But what has also been apparent from his work, both before and since, is that we will see a superior version of Young Elite.
Due to Young Elite's internal problems, Fownes has to pick his spots with the horse and looks to have really tightened the screws coming into this Group One event in a fashion that was not apparent before the 1,400m race.
The speed in the Stewards' Cup looks one of the most important factors, with Beauty Flash (Gerald Mosse) and Sight Winner quite possibly putting on a repeat of the slowly run Hong Kong Mile when Beauty Flash was able to kick on and score. There is the added factor of an extra leader in Packing Winner, who could change the equation, but the race does not look a fast-pace scenario in any event as any of the three leaders can take a trail instead if necessary.
While a serious chance in the race like Irian (Darren Beadman) has been quite one dimensional and had to be steadied back in his races, Young Elite has been reasonably versatile tactically. One of his most impressive victories as he charged through the grades was when Prebble rode him handy to the lead in a 1,600m event and he could be in front of more runners than he is behind if similar tactics are employed.
The Tony Cruz-trained Beauty Flash must command plenty of respect, especially with the pace angle potentially in his favour.
Young and bold
The Caspar Fownes-trained Young Elite has kept his owners - HKJC Racing Club Limited - delighted, earning a cool: HK$4.9m