With back-to-back wins in the space of 10 days, Renaissance Art continued to live up to his name with a late season resurgence that has trainer Caspar Fownes once again taking aim at the big staying races with his import.
Last season Renaissance Art pegged himself as a stayer of the future with two wins and a Group Three second in the Queen Mother Memorial Cup, but a gelding operation in July had a negative effect and precipitated a steep drop through the ratings.
“He didn’t appreciate being castrated at all,” Fownes said. “He just went sour on us and wasn’t enjoying his stable life or racing.”
A facile four and three-quarter length win at Happy Valley two Wednesdays ago at Happy Valley was the first real sign Renaissance Art had regained his mojo, and Friday’s impressive performance in the Hong Kong Reunification Cup was confirmation.
“It looks like we have got him back to something like he was before, putting the hood and pacifiers on him has helped too, but just him coming to terms with things has been the main factor,” Fownes said.
The five-year-old was seemingly hit hard by the handicapper for the last start effort, jumping 12 ratings points, but the assessment was made to look more than fair after a win off 92.
“Now we can look at getting him into triple figures and some of the 2,400m features could be suitable for him,” Fownes said.
With Zac Purton committed to ride top weight Harbour Master for John Moore, Nash Rawiller seized the opportunity on the son of More Than Ready, making the most of barrier two on the tricky 2,000m course.
“That gate helped of course, but he won like a horse that had a class in hand,” he said.
Rawiller positioned Renaissance Art nicely in midfield before Happilababy whipped around the field and provided a trail into the straight for the winner.
“Actually we might have been in a bit of strife had that not happened,” Rawiller said. “It gave us that perfect suck run. Still, even though a few things went right, I believe he is on the way up.”
Even though Renaissance Art’s rating will reach a new career high on Monday, Fownes said his horse still has some progress to make temperament wise to bring his best to the bigger track.
“He is still better over at Happy Valley, but he won’t get as many chances there now with his rating. Like a lot of horses he is much more calm over there, but he just gets into a real state here at Sha Tin,” he said. “He was better today but if we can get that right with him then he could really make an impression here.”
The win was Rawiller’s 27th for the season and seventh in the space of the last four meetings – a period following confirmation the Australian heavyweight rider would remain on the full-time roster next term.
“I feel like I am in a better rhythm now, just focusing on the horse I am riding and not worrying so much about what is going on around me,” he said. “I guess it does help to have that confidence to know I will still be here.”