Long-priced winners are obviously met with mixed reactions at Sha Tin, mostly negative though, with even the winning owners sometimes looking sour having not backed their horse to win.
So when 100-1 shot Apache Spirit returned to scale, the crowd’s reception was understandably muted, and even the usually effervescent trainer Caspar Fownes seemed stunned by the result.
“Yeah that was a real surprise,” Fownes said after his second triple-figure result of the term, in a season where massive prices have been much more regular than usual.
“The horse hasn’t been going very well really, he had a couple of wins last season, but I’ll take winners no matter what price they are. I’m here to train winners.”
Fownes produced a 268-1 winner earlier this season when Twin Delight won in Class One and there have been four triple-figure winners already from the 490 races run.
After Twin Delight’s victory in September, Red Elysees scored at 140-1 in January and Super Junior returned a whopping 167-1 last month.
Apache Spirit’s blowout result also brought up big-price winners on back-to-back weekends for Vincent Ho Chak-yiu after another Fownes runner found form and Lucky Double Eight stung punters at odds of 39-1.
“Actually, I didn’t look at the odds, to be honest, but I feel the same way as my boss, I’ll take any winner I can get,” Ho said, admitting he hadn’t thought he was much chance either – at least before the start.
“I got to the 600m though and he felt like he had something, and I could see the leaders weren’t far away. When I got to the straight I found some clear room, which was very lucky, and then I went hard at him and he responded. He showed a good dash.”
Ho said Apache Spirit’s biggest issue was a sensitive mouth that meant the six-year-old was an incredibly difficult ride.
“He is a really tough horse to ride, he always throws his head around,” Ho said. “I think the horse liked the track today, there seemed more give in the ground for me. But most of all he just needs an even pace.
“He needs everything his way and a smooth run otherwise he just packs it in, starts throwing his head everywhere and loses his balance.”