Veteran trainer Lawrie Fownes got the send-off he so dearly wanted yesterday when the Hong Kong Jockey Club Licensing Committee granted his son, Caspar, a licence for next season. Fownes will retire under compulsory age retirement rules next month after more than 40 years of training - more than half of that in Hong Kong - and was thrilled yesterday with the news that Caspar will carry on the family tradition. 'That is amazing, fantastic news. From the depths of despair to the heights of elation, you could say. It was what we'd aimed for with Caspar for so long and it was a real gut-wrencher when he didn't get a licence in March,' Fownes Snr said. 'We're running sixth on the table and Caspar's been doing 95 per cent of it for quite some time, so it's great he'll now be doing it in his own right. I can move into my retirement phase knowing I've done what I could for Caspar, taking him to this point, and I know he's going to be a better trainer than his old man. Caspar is young and moves with the times. In the end, racing in Hong Kong is going to be the winner for this.' Caspar Fownes, 35, had been passed over in March when the two new trainers for 2003-04 were announced as South African David Ferraris and Ivan Allan's assistant, Danny Shum Chap-shing. At the time, both father and son were shattered but the issuing of a third licence for next season became a possibility when struggling trainers Peter Chapple-Hyam and Alex Wong Siu-tan both faced inquiries to justify their licences at the end of this term. 'We do still have a show cause hearing pending for Alex Wong Siu-tan,' said the Jockey Club's executive director of racing, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges yesterday. 'However, with Peter Chapple-Hyam withdrawing his application for a licence, his future is settled and there is a vacancy for a third new trainer.' Caspar Fownes said he had been swamped with calls from well-wishers yesterday as the bitter disappointment of March was swept aside. 'I went through a pretty tough time when I missed out, so words can barely express how happy I am now and how grateful to the Club and the director of racing for the faith they've shown in me,' he said yesterday. 'I feel like I'm a local boy - I've been here 22 years and speak some Cantonese - so this is a tremendous day for me and all the family, so to be following the footsteps of my father in the world's best racing town is unbelievable. 'Gee, the news gets out so quickly. I've had calls from all over the world this morning and even had a couple of horses offered to me for next season already, so now I'm looking forward to the new job, the new season and to letting my results prove that I deserve this chance.' Engelbrecht-Bresges said Fownes' long experience on the local scene under his father had been a key factor. 'Caspar was one of our top candidates during the first round of licensing anyway, but it was felt in this special case that he was probably the assistant best placed to deal with starting under a handicap,' Engelbrecht-Bresges explained. 'Because of the late promotion, he has two months less than the other new trainers to gather together a team of horses, but appears to have the best situation to offset that disadvantage.' It was a sentiment between the lines from Fownes Snr, too. 'The best thing about this is that Caspar can progress to his licence without having to break up the team,' he explained. 'As I've said before, Caspar has been responsible for getting our owners to invest plenty of money in good young horses in recent seasons, with a view to having a good team to take over when he did get his licence. 'If, after my retirement, he'd had to go a year or two before getting it, that team would have broken up and gone to different trainers and he would have had to start from scratch. It would have been tough to get it back together again.' Yesterday's licensing committee also granted jockey Jimmy Ting Koon-ho an assistant trainer's licence next season, when he will join David Hill's yard. 'In Jimmy Ting's case, the process from work rider to assistant has been accelerated by the fact that we believe his work as a jockey has familiarised him with what his duties will be in the stables,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said. 'Also, by his own initiative, he has already successfully completed the course in Melbourne where we send all of our aspiring assistant trainers before they are promoted. So we feel he is clearly sufficiently advanced to justify his appointment to assistant.' Allan's deputy assistant-work rider, Edwin Sau Fung-wong, has been promoted to assistant trainer to fill the void in that yard left by Shum's move to the training ranks. The committee issued a list of assistant trainers for next season and their allocated stables, though Eddie Lo and newly appointed Fownes have yet to advise the club of their assistants. The committee also refused to grant a deputy assistant trainer's licence to former trainer, Chris Cheung Ting-pong.