Caspar Fownes pledged support for Jack Wong Ho-nam and called on the club to introduce more apprentice riders into the system after a win with back-up horse Popping Candy - the first leg of a double for the 10-pound claimer.

I'll be using him when I can get him, and I'll use Kei as well
Caspar Fownes

Last week Fownes entrusted Wong to handle his stable star Lucky Nine at the season opener, and while that experiment didn't pan out as hoped, the trainer said he hadn't lost faith in the 21-year-old, who had nine wins in his first season.

"I'll be using him when I can get him, and I'll use Kei as well," Fownes said, referring to newcomer Kei Chiong Ka-kei, who has now ridden at two meetings and also has the benefit of a 10-pound weight advantage.

"We need the apprentices here, there are plenty of horses like Popping Candy who need the help. He ran well for Joao Moreira on Wednesday, but he is the type of horse that, with topweight in a race like that, can really benefit from having 10 pounds off his back.


"Hopefully later this season the club can bring a few more apprentice riders into the system. In saying that, they are going about things the right way, letting the apprentices learn their trade overseas, making the mistakes that are part of learning there before they step up to the big time."

Fownes mentioned the progress of his apprentice Victor Wong Chun, who is currently riding in Australia and has ridden five wins from 42 rides to sit equal third in the Tasmanian jockeys' premiership just over one month into the season.

"He is riding very well, we are keeping tabs on him," Fownes said. "He is a good kid."

Two races after his success on Popping Candy, Wong made the most of a low draw on Best Hope, with trainer Dennis Yip Chor-hong also pointing to the claim as the difference: "And of course barrier one, he also got a nice slow pace through the race out in front."

The front-running ride relegated Chiong into second on Unique Joyful, Wong's post-race quotes perhaps igniting a good-natured mini-rivalry between the pair.

"Of course I want to get more wins than Kei, I want to be leading apprentice this season and I also want to outride my 10-pound claim," Wong said, adding that his weight had crept up to 105 pounds, meaning he now cannot claim his full allowance on those at the bottom of the weights.

Wong has nine more wins before his claim is reduced from 10 to seven pounds, and until then it is unlikely that club officials will look to license any new apprentices.

Jockey Club director of racing Bill Nader said it was typical to only have one full claiming apprentice riding at any one time.

"I know we have two at the moment, but it's good to have a mix," Nader said. "Ideally we would have one apprentice claiming 10 pounds, one seven and another five. We only have a limited number of jockeys here in Hong Kong and we need to ensure we get the balance right."