Caspar Fownes says he is “up for the challenge” of bringing star sprinter Aethero back to his best after the precocious three-year-old was officially transferred to his care from John Moore’s stable on Saturday morning.
The son of Sebring faces a long road back after bleeding badly in the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1,200m) last month, however Fownes is confident he is the man for the job.
“I’ve had a lot of success with some horses with bad internal issues over the years and I’m up for the challenge,” he said.
“I just hope we can get him to come back from the bleeding attack, we’ll take our time with him and give him every possible chance to do that.”
With Moore being forced into retirement by the Jockey Club at the end of the season, Fownes is thankful Aethero’s connections decided to move the horse early.
Fownes confirmed the open expanses of the Jockey Club’s HK$3.7 billion Conghua facility will play a part in the horse’s recovery.
“It’s worked out well that he’s with us now so we’ll do some tests on him, treat him right and get him in the best possible condition we can going forward,” he said.
“[The bleed] has come at the right time, he’s only a young horse, we’ll give him a chance to strengthen up and see how he goes once we bring him into his prep.
“Hopefully next season when we start to prepare him, if things go well I’m sure there will be some exciting times ahead.”
Should everything go to plan, Fownes knows he’ll have his best sprinter since his champion Lucky Nine.
“No doubt, we know what talent he’s got and if we can get him over his internal issues we’re going to have a horse we can have a lot of fun with,” he said.
Aethero’s short career has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride and he is yet to reach his enormous potential, with Moore of the belief he is the most talented sprinter he’s ever trained.
After running third as $1.50 favourite in December’s Group One Hong Kong Sprint, Aethero was found to have a fever and didn’t race again until April, finishing last at Group Two level after a torrid run.
Moore then launched a campaign to take the galloper back to Australia with him after his bleed, however connections opted to stay the course in their bid for more success on home soil.
Moreira joins Purton on top
The ebb and flow of the jockeys’ championship continued at Sha Tin on Sunday with Joao Moreira securing a treble to draw back level with Zac Purton atop the leader board.
The Magic Man saluted aboard Sky Gem, Picken and Inner Flame while the Australian prevailed on Classic Posh so now they head into Wednesday night’s Happy Valley card locked together on 117 winners for the term.
The Douglas Whyte-trained Inner Flame was the most impressive of those gallopers, securing his fourth win from five starts in the Class Three Pak Sha O Handicap (1,200m).
“It’s nice to know that he’s bounced back from that ordinary run where he hit his head in the gates – he’s put that behind him,” Whyte said.
“He was supposed to run a week ago but I said to Joao ‘I’m going to give him another trial, he’s just getting a bit too naughty and he just needs a trial to knock the wind out of his sails’. It was probably the winning move because he could have been vulnerable last week if he was drawn in the same barrier and we made the same use of him as today.
“I thought it was a handy Class Three today, there were some nice progressive horses and we had to do it the tough way. He got attacked 700m out and he dug deep and showed a bit of tenacity and that’s what good horses do.
“It bodes well [for the future]. The most important and interesting thing from my point of view as a trainer is that I don’t think I’ve got anywhere near the bottom yet – he’s still doing it on raw ability.”
Hamelin’s star continues to rise
Frenchman Antoine Hamelin has now recorded winners at nine of the 11 meetings he’s ridden at in Hong Kong – including his past five – after guiding home Dublin Star on Sunday.
The 28-year-old now has 12 victories from 99 rides – a stunning start to his career in the city – and his performance on Manfred Man Ka-leung’s talented youngster was a relief to his supporters.
Dublin Star was beaten as an odds-on favourite in his first two starts and had remained prominent in the market since then, but finally broke through for his first victory at his sixth start.
Hamelin settled the $3.7 chance just behind the leaders before sprinting clear late to defeat Comfort Life and Nextmodel in the Class Four Tai Mong Tsai Handicap (1,000m).
Up and down day for Callan
Neil Callan had a seesawing day at the office on Sunday, securing his 19th winner of the term while also being hit with a suspension.
The popular Irishman drove Paul O’Sullivan’s smart three-year-old Judy’s Star home in the Class Four Wong Chuk Wan Handicap (1,200m), beating Wood On Fire and Super Eighteen.
But Callan will miss the meeting at Happy Valley on June 3 after being found guilty of careless riding aboard Private Secretary in the Class Two Hoi Ha Handicap (1,800m). He was also fined HK$17,500.
It is fair to say the 41-year-old was not pleased with the decision.
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