'After three seconds earlier, it was nice to get a win, particularly in this race' Caspar Fownes has made rapid headway in his rookie year and yesterday paused briefly to reflect on the journey in the wake of landing his first trophy race with stable stalwart The Duke at Sha Tin. In racking up the stable's 10th winner for the season in the $1.6 million Chevalier Cup, The Duke also ended a frustrating sequence of minor placings for the popular first-season mentor. 'After three seconds earlier in the day, it was nice to get a win, particularly in this race,' Fownes said. 'It really worked out perfectly. I had said to Glyn [Schofield] to go forward and set his own speed, but if something wanted to force the issue then let it go. When Shane [Dye] came across on Great Delight and set such a good, even tempo, it suited us perfectly.' Those second placings were Metro Flyer (Robbie Fradd) in race two, Acclamation (Jimmy Quinn) in the fifth and Maranello (Dwayne Dunn) in the seventh. However, despite that frustrating sequence of seconds, it was obvious a long way from home that there was only one potential winner of the Chevalier Cup. Schofield had The Duke poised to pick off Great Delight whenever he wanted and the hoped-for response was given the instant the question was asked. The Duke, yet another son of the late, great sire Danehill, forged clear in the concluding stages to post a 31/2-length margin over Great Delight, who weakened noticeably in the final 100 metres but still had a margin of 21/2 lengths to spare over third placegetter Planet Ruler. Fownes selected and purchased The Duke at the Hong Kong International Sale two years ago. The bay was a leading candidate for the $1 million bonus for the sale graduate who won the most prizemoney the following season, but he was touched off by the David Hayes-trained Wyndam Easy. However, The Duke has been a sterling servant for Fownes and for his father, now-retired trainer Lawrie, before him. 'Yes, he has been a great horse for us - he's just so honest,' Fownes Jnr continued. 'He just goes out there and runs to his best, every time.' Consistency is not just the hallmark of The Duke. It seems most of the Fownes stable runners are painted with the same brush, as the trainer's overall performance statistics clearly show. Apart from his 10 winners, Fownes has led in 22 second placegetters and 16 thirds. In fact, for firsts and seconds combined for the season, he's only three behind premier trainer John Size, on a 35-32 scoreline. David Hayes indulged in a brief piece of self criticism after Planet Ruler had bravely shouldered his handicap of 127 pounds into third placing, albeit six lengths from the winner. 'I was happy with his run,' Hayes began. 'In the end, they were the wrong instructions, asking Gerald [Mosse] to go back on the horse. I can only blame myself because although the race looked like there were not too many leaders. From the wide barrier I was concerned he would get posted out wide if everybody was thinking the same thing and a few went forward.' Odds-on favourite California Hawk battled on late for fourth but, according to jockey Felix Coetzee, was a victim of the way the race set up. 'There were only two horses with the speed to go forward and they were the winner and the second horse,' Coetzee explained. 'Having seen all the videos of our horse in his New Zealand races, I know he's a horse who takes a little while to balance in the early stages of a race. He has still run well, even though he hasn't finished in the placings.' The Duke was the second leg of a double for Schofield, with the South African having struck earlier on veteran Recognition for another rookie trainer, Danny Shum Chap-shing. 'The Duke was a very straight-forward ride. Once I found the rail and let Shane lead me on Great Delight, he was never going to get beaten,' Schofield said. 'In the case of Recognition, I've always thought he's a horse that wants a bit of room in order to do his best. He's just not that confident in a field. He had quite a nice run in the race and, when I took him into the clear, he went to the line quite strongly.' Shum completed a double in the sixth race with outsider Shabu Shabu, ridden by Howard Cheng. It was only a fortnight ago that Shum led in his first double since being licensed at the start of the new season. Yesterday's double, on top of the Gallant Horse-Euphoric Kid two-timer on November 15, has taken Shum to 10 wins and equal footing on the trainer's table with fellow rookie Fownes.