Top trainer Caspar Fownes will not be on hand at Sha Tin on Sunday to oversee his two Group One runners, Sky Field and Sky Darci, but he will be back on track soon after revealing he has received his first Covid-19 vaccination.
Fownes chose to have his first shot this week after the government introduced regulations preventing anyone not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 from being on track.
“I’ve taken my first vaccine on Wednesday and obviously I’ll get my second jab four weeks later. Then I’m hopeful I can go to the races after that,” Fownes said.
Despite being disappointed at missing out on the opportunity to see his two stable stars in action, Fownes believes both his horses are in the right shape to run huge races.
Sky Field wins the G1 @LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint under @blake_shinn for Caspar Fownes. #HKIR #HKracing pic.twitter.com/KWlWBdK5jQ— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) December 12, 2021
Sky Field attempts to follow up his victory in an incident-packed Hong Kong Sprint and the trainer believes the five-year-old can prove he is number one in the sprint division in the Group One Centenary Sprint Cup (1,200m).
“He’s in great form and he’s drawn gate one for the third time in a row,” Fownes said.
“It’s a small field and he’s going to be very competitive. Now is his chance to show us that he is the best. We won’t have any pressure on us, it’s a small field and we’ll treat him like he’s the best horse in the race and we’ll ride him accordingly. Hopefully we’re right.”
Fownes is expecting a much-improved performance from Sky Darci, who wears a first-time visor in the Group One Stewards’ Cup (1,600m) after he finished ninth in the Hong Kong Mile behind superstar Golden Sixty.
“Sky Darci has pleased me more this prep than he did going into the December race so I’d be expecting an improved run, especially with the tweak of his equipment with the visor on for the first time,” Fownes said.
“But obviously we’ve got the unbeatable Golden Sixty and Waikuku is in great form – even though there’s only seven runners, it’s a strong race. Hopefully we can challenge this time.”
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Fownes admits that he is toying with the idea of stepping Sky Darci up in trip after this Sha Tin race, with the Group One Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2,000m) on February 20 entering the trainer’s thoughts.
“We trialled him the other day and he’s just not showing that early gate speed that he’s got, he’s just coming out slow and taking his time to wind into it,” Fownes said.
Beauty Joy, too good! 💥 Unbeaten in Australia, the five-year-old known as Talladega pre-import is now a two-time winner in Hong Kong - both times under @zpurton. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/J2vtd4N6xb— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 19, 2022
“This race will tell us more but I think the way the staying horses are in Hong Kong, I have no option but to extend his trip and see if he’s good enough.”
The trainer also had an update on four-year-old Rocket Spade, who finished fourth behind Beauty Joy in the Class Two Lantau Island Handicap (1,650m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
“I was very happy with him, he was back and his last 800m was the fastest,” Fownes said.
“He was strong through the line and he’ll run in the Classic Mile. Then he’ll either run in the [Class Two] 2,000m a week before the Classic Cup or he’ll go to the Classic Cup, depending on what he does in the Classic Mile.”