Caspar Fownes has called on leading jockey Joao Moreira to keep his stable’s hot streak going by booking the Brazilian for four rides on Wednesday at Happy Valley, including Class Five hope Winaswewish, as the pair look to maintain their lethal strike rate this term.
Fownes has won five races at the last two meetings to rocket to the top of the trainers’ championship with 11 victories and Moreira has been on two of them – among just three he has ridden for the yard in 2016-17.
The barrier draw has been kind to the pairing with three of the four runners allocated low gates.
Winaswewish (barrier one) and So Caffe (three) looking a great chance from their alleys, and even though last start winner Royal Partner (10) and Formula Galore (12) have drawn "out", they still have a great chance.
Winaswewish looks a great chance to snap his winless run at 12 in the opening race as the five-year-old contests a Class Five for the second time – and continue what has been an excellent record in the grade for Fownes and Moreira.
Since the start of the 2014-15 season, Moreira’s first full term, he has ridden 14 horses for Fownes in Class Five and won on five of them, including recent victors Sweet Bean and Invisible, for a win strike rate of 36 per cent.
Winaswewish was sent around on the dirt first up over 1,650m and performed well – storming home to finish third behind Mighty Wongchoy and Jimson The Famous as he clocked the fastest closing sectionals in a race where the two leaders went quickly early but still ran away with it.
Now the son of Thorn Park returns to Fownes’ favourite course, but probably also his own, with the gelding coming up with some great showings over the course and distance up in Class Four last term.
In three tries over the Happy Valley extended mile, Winaswewish finished third, fourth and third in consecutive starts, but now with a drop into bottom grade it certainly seems he is due in the Birch Handicap.
On the flip side, it seems So Caffe might be nearing his ratings ceiling after two wins late last season put the five-year-old at the top of Class Three, but with the help of a good draw and against a weak 10-horse field he could strike first-up here.
Formula Galore goes up in grade to contest the Palm Handicap – but his first-up run in Class Five showed he may have some ratings points in hand and with just 115-pounds on his back (Moreira claiming one over to ride), the four-year-old will be storming home in a race where there should be suitable speed.
Hot Hot Pepper (Zac Purton) looks the obvious favourite in the race, but could find some nuisance value in fellow on-pace runner Supreme Flight and Kei Chiong Ka-kei aboard.
Royal Partner is equal bottom weight in The JCI Hong Kong Senate Cup and even though he won last start, has competed at much higher ratings previously.
Perhaps Fownes’ most intriguing runner is one Moreira is not booked for with four-year-old Happy Cheers (Brett Prebble) heading to the Valley second-up for the Yew Handicap after a solid, but green, local debut at Sha Tin.
The tight turns and sharp straight could suit Happy Cheers, who wandered about in the long run home at Sha Tin last start, and from gate four the Australian import will be gifted a lovely run.