He sits smack bang in the middle of the trainers’ premiership 34 meetings into the 2021-22 season and reigning champion Caspar Fownes is confident things will only trend one way from here.
It’s been a relatively slow start for Fownes after his barnstorming run to the title last term but things are slowly starting to warm up, with a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday night taking him to 14 winners for the campaign.
It’s a far cry from the 38 winners he had at the same time last term and it’s no secret backing up title-winning years in Hong Kong with another strong performance is extremely tough.
But the wheel is starting to turn and Fownes is confident he can work his way up the table while laying the foundations for a crack at a fifth premiership next season.
“It’s been a pretty quiet season but I expected that. It’s been a little bit quieter than I thought but in saying that, I always hit my numbers so history tells you the numbers will come at the right time,” Fownes said. “So what I’ve missed early I will get, god willing, in the last few months of the season.
“I’m just building a good team for next season to have a realistic crack at the championship and this year I’ll do my best and see if I can claim a top-five position.
“My target is to chase that and get another Happy Valley crown – I was going through the stats the other day, I’ve got 11 of them.”
Five of Fownes 14 winners have come in the past four meetings and the 54-year-old saddles up five runners as he looks to continue his run at Sunday’s Sha Tin meeting.
Rocket Spade is the most noteworthy of those, with last year’s New Zealand Derby winner having his second Hong Kong start in the Class Two Chek Keng Handicap (1,600m).
The Fastnet Rock colt ran on nicely over 1,400m last month and will thrive on the step-up to eight furlongs as Fownes continues to tune up his charge ahead of the first leg of the four-year-old series later this month.
Fownes also has winning chances in the day’s two Class Five contests – Super Kin in the Wong Yi Chau Handicap (1,400m) and Telecom Missile in the Wong Shek Handicap (1,200m), although both will have to overcome barrier 12.
Telecom Missile finished second at the course and distance last start under Karis Teetan, also from gate 12, and the Mauritian knows he can go one better if things fall his way.
“Last time I thought he ran a very good race, from that draw we could not chase him too hard and he finished off strongly,” Teetan said.
“This time we have an awkward draw again but he has got some level of ability that suggests he can still win a race like that and Caspar’s stable looks like it is on form a little bit now, so I’m hoping that I can ride him a winner.”
Fownes also saddles up Green Envy and The Hulk.