The Fownes family's disappointment at son Caspar being denied in his bid to become a licensed trainer in Hong Kong was still profound yesterday, but the horizon was just a little brighter. There is now the unofficial possibility of a third new trainer being licensed before the year's end, with the futures of Alex Wong Siu-tan and Peter Chapple-Hyam both being clouded after Tuesday's announcements by the licensing committee. Then there is a second possible lifeline for Caspar Fownes - one he has not even considered at this point - of putting in an application to remain as an assistant trainer. Applications for the assistant trainer licences close tomorrow and Kim Kelly, chairman of the licensing committee, pulled no punches when discussing the issue yesterday. 'We would expect Caspar Fownes to apply for the position of an assistant trainer,' Kelly said directly, with emphasis on the word 'expect'. 'He is held in good stead in the industry and in the years since he has been assistant trainer to his father has performed his duties admirably.' Caspar, 36, may have only carried the badge of assistant trainer for two years, but according to his father has performed the relevant duties for some 18 years. 'When I applied for him to be my assistant 14 or 15 years ago, I was told it was club policy that the [assistant trainer's] role was only available to bilingual Chinese,' he said. With both Fownes and son being permanent Hong Kong residents, and with the understanding 16 years down the track that such demarcation along racial lines is no longer appropriate anywhere in the world, Caspar was licensed as an assistant trainer in 2001. Fownes Snr, who faces compulsory retirement on June 23 due to having turned 65, said the family had been swamped with calls and assurances of support, both in person and on the telephone. 'The support we've been receiving has been very touching and we are extremely grateful to everyone,' Fownes said. 'We haven't had much time to sit back and think about the alternatives because we were so positive about Caspar taking over the licence.' But since the announcement that four-times South African champion David Ferraris and Ivan Allan's assistant, Danny Shum Chap-shing, had made the grade, the Fownes have been forced to consider the alternatives. Firstly, Jockey Club sources have mooted the possibility of a third licence being issued later in the year if either Chapple-Hyam or Wong fail to clear the hurdles in front of them prior to the end of the season. Wong - presently suspended - must face a hearing, at a date to be fixed, to 'show cause' why he should be relicensed. The reason, in the words of the licensing committee, is 'in view of his stable management performance and his overall unsatisfactory record of stable management'. British citizen Chapple-Hyam, at one time the retained trainer at Robert Sangster's magnificent Manton property in England, has to train six more winners before June 23 otherwise he, too, will face a show-cause hearing for having failed to meet the Club's performance criteria. Jockey Club director of racing Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges declined to comment yesterday. A possible solution for Caspar would be to become assistant trainer to Ferraris, a move that would benefit the newcomer and help keep the bulk of the Fownes stable together after his father's forced retirement in three months. 'But Caspar was ready to train 10 years ago,' Fownes said. 'He's effectively been running the show for a number of years now, with me looking on. I'm not sure how he would feel about becoming an assistant trainer to someone else.'