Fownes' hopes lifted for Stakes
Hong Kong's Green Birdie and Lucky Nine wound up their preparations with light canters yesterday in preparation for the Group One Sprinters Stakes in Tokyo and trainer Caspar Fownes goes into the race positive, despite the awesome presence of Singapore champion Rocket Man.
The Patrick Shaw-trained sprinter wound up his prep on Friday with a sharp gallop under Felix Coetzee, then had good news at the draw with barrier five.
'I will look at the other runners and where they are likely to be but I'm sure we'll be in a prominent position anyway,' said Coetzee of the KrisFlyer Sprint and Golden Shaheen champion.
'I was very happy with his final workout,' Shaw said. 'It went very well and he's pulled up well. and the draw means Felix can more or less judge if the pace is too fast or not. I don't give instructions to the jockey because you never know what the pace is going to be. Anyway we can't be happier.'
But Fownes had reason to be pleased with Lucky Nine, who will be better suited by the conditions of the Sprinters Stakes than in the Centaur when unlucky in second last start, and will have barrier one instead of 13.
'Green Birdie getting the outside draw in 16 makes things tough for him - he will need a lot of luck and a very good ride from Tye [Angland] if he is to win it. But I'm very happy with Lucky Nine's draw - his record from low gates is outstanding in Hong Kong. He's had six draws of five or lower and won three times and been placed three times.'
Fownes added the two horses have worked and fed ideally.
'Both of them are up in body weight which is pleasing,' he said. 'They had a gallop on Tuesday when I was here and they went nicely and pulled up really well from it. We are on track for a competitive race.'
Dasher Go Go, who ran such a fabulous race when third in the Centaur after a horror wide run, has been put forward as the best of the local sprinters ahead of Centaur winner A Shin Virgo.
Trainer Takayuki Yasuda said he hoped the sprinter would have more luck this time.
'He had an outside draw in his last race and had to cover extra ground and with no one in front, and he was a bit too keen,' he said. 'Even with that, though, he finished third by only a small margin. Even though it was a tough race, he came back from it well. He had room for improvement going into that, so I was expecting him to improve afterward, and he has, even better than I thought. He's added muscle on his hindquarters and is looking powerful.'