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Zac Purton

Gun Pit closer to Breeders’ Cup commitment after Sha Tin barrier trial

Trainer Caspar Fownes says it’s “more likely” the dirt-track specialist will make the trip to California

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 6:56pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 6:56pm

A Breeders’ Cup bid by for Hong Kong’s premier dirt horse Gun Pit is a step closer to reality after a strong trial at Sha Tin on Tuesday had trainer Caspar Fownes sounding like it is all systems go for a trip to Santa Anita.

Fownes skipped what might have been an easy collect in the Korea Cup last month in favour of staying at home and preparing Gun Pit for a possible shot at the Grade One Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in southern California early next month.

Up until now the sounds coming out of the Gun Pit camp had been negative regarding the six-year-old’s form but after the gelding strode out impressively in a 1,200m barrier trial under Zac Purton, Fownes said it was “more likely” his surface specialist would travel.

“His trial was pleasing and his scope was good, he will trial again either next Friday or the Tuesday after that, but at this stage everything is good,” Fownes said, with the trainer to contact Breeders’ Cup officials over the next few days to hammer out details regarding entries and travel.

While Fownes was somewhat cautious about the plans, Purton seemed more confident Gun Pit would make the trip – but less so about his own chances of joining the horse.

“He seems to be in better form than he was earlier in the season, he is trialling with a little more purpose now and seems to be moving better,” Purton said. “It looks at this stage like he is going to go to America.”

The Australian jockey, who has ridden Gun Pit in six of the horse’s eight career wins, is waiting on word from Australia as to whether he will ride at the Breeders’ Cup.

“I might have some rides on the final day of the Flemington carnival I am committed to,” he said.

If Purton knocks back the ride, Fownes could turn to Joao Moreira, who rode Gun Pit to second in the Group One Al Maktoum Challenge, Round 3 earlier this year.

As usual it was a busy morning for Purton at the trials and he was also aboard Chris So Wai-yin’s rising sprint star Racing Supernova, a last start winner slated for a start over his favourite straight course in a Class Two next Sunday.

Racing Supernova got through his work well in a 800m cobweb cleaner, clocking 46.47s and working right through the line.