Caspar Fownes has done some of his best work at Happy Valley, including a six-win haul one afternoon, but the dethroned king of the city track was just happy to see Gonna Run’s number go in the frame there last night to snap the worst losing streak of the trainer’s career.
Fownes, who generally dominates meetings at Happy Valley but had relinquished his crown to Danny Shum Chap-shing this season, had racked up 80 losing runners since Zac Purton landed Blocker Dee for him at the Valley on March 2.
So it was fitting that it was Purton weaving his way through the field to grab the result in the last stride on Gonna Run to turn it all around again.
“Really, I’m glad that’s all over,” said Fownes. “Nobody likes a drought like that but it’s worse because I’m not the one that gets worried about it the most – I know it’s part of the game. It’s everyone else in the stable who gets worried about it. Anyway, it’s over and a really deserved win for this horse who has been going so well without luck.”
The B course was playing a touch leaderish last night and that wasn’t the ideal scenario for a get-back horse like Gonna Run, but perhaps the state of the course helped him indirectly as Fownes asked Purton to give him a warm-up before the race and try to be closer than usual.
“He had a good draw and I wanted to use that, especially the way the track looked to be,” Fownes said. “He still didn’t have the speed to go with them but he was a little closer and that was enough. He’s been running home the best sectionals every run and it was just a case of getting the breaks at the right time and he was going to win one.”
Rival trainer Tony Cruz had every reason to be slightly disappointed about “the right time” with Jolly Gene (Matthew Chadwick) after the five-year-old put up a remarkable performance to win the fifth over 2,200m after sitting off the track the whole way.
Had the race been a week or two earlier, Cruz might have thrown in a nomination for Jolly Gene as a lightweight hopeful in the Group Three Queen Mother Memorial Cup over 2,400m on Sunday.
But when entries closed in recent days, Jolly Gene was rated 74 and ineligible, so that possibility is past and he’ll have to wait until next year.
“He’s a real stayer this horse. He doesn’t look great in the paddock but be can stay, he wants 2,400m and obviously there are not many races like that here,” said Cruz.
Tony Millard landed a winning double, including a fourth straight win for Master Viking (Kei Chiong Ka-kei), then admitted he would never have dreamed of the horse putting together such a streak.
“He’s been a disappointing horse and at the start of the season, I would have taken one win very happily,” Millard said. “It’s remarkable – he’d be the last horse you’d expect to win four straight but he was lucky, he just had everything go right again tonight and a track helping him.”
Millard also won with Pearl Win (Karis Teetan), who also led all the way stepping up to the extended Valley mile.
“They must have thought he was a risk at the distance, they left him alone in front and that was enough,” Millard said.
Winning doubles went to Chiong and to Teetan, who claimed the Jockey Challenge, while the ‘usual’ Jockey Challenge winner Joao Moreira was newsworthy for a rare elimination from the contest prior to the last race – which he then won, sitting wide on My Darling for John Size.