Caspar Fownes hopes Packing Whiz can fulfil promise in Stewards' Cup
Trainer optimistic the former Italian galloper can land a Group One win at Sha Tin
Packing Whiz has always promised to land a Group One without ever really announcing a place and time but trainer Caspar Fownes is looking forward to Sunday's HK$8 million Stewards' Cup as a suitable moment.
Fownes will also saddle up 2013 Champions Mile runner-up Helene Spirit in the Group One domestic mile, but has a distinct leaning to former Italian galloper Packing Whiz after his third in the Longines Hong Kong Mile last month.
The horses which beat him, Glorious Days and Gold-Fun, will be present again on Sunday but Fownes feels that fitness is where Packing Whiz can make up the one-and-a-half length beaten margin.
"He went into it second-up and that wasn't ideal - this horse needs racing. You see him work and he doesn't put a lot into it or show you much. There's nothing like racing to get him fit and he has come on since the international run," Fownes said.
"His talent has never been in question. We know he's capable of mixing it with the best on his day even if he has had a few internal issues. He's had no interruptions lately and I've been able to train him as I've wanted."
Fownes might well have the Stewards' Cup field surrounded in running, with Packing Whiz a regulation back marker and Helene Spirit a frequent front runner.
"His run since the Hong Kong Mile was quite good under a big weight, he was only beaten a couple of lengths," the trainer said. "He's back to a harder race here at level weights so it won't be easy. He never runs badly, and one day he'll get a couple of cheap sectionals and be very hard to get past, like he was in the Champions Mile, but Packing Whiz is the best of my pair."
Meanwhile, a joint-record 21 Hong Kong horses made the final cut in yesterday's Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings for 2013, equalling the 2011 result.
That placed Hong Kong behind only the larger racing nations of the United States, Australia, Great Britain and Japan, with Military Attack and Ambitious Dragon both on a rating of 124 and only rated six points inferior to the world's two leading performers of 2013, the brilliant females, Black Caviar and Treve.
"This return to our record high after a transition period last year following the retirement of some of our stars confirms the talent we have here makes us a consistent force on the global racing scene," said executive director of racing Bill Nader.
"For a jurisdiction with only 1,200 horses in training, it's quite a feat for us to match a nation like France and outpoint a country with such a strong racehorse heritage as Ireland."