Alex Ferguson did it on multiple occasions with Manchester United and John Size has proved the premier exponent in Hong Kong. The key to sustained success is knowing when to dismantle a championship-winning team and rebuild.
That process is exactly what last season’s champion trainer Caspar Fownes is undertaking. With 22 winners this season, he is not in contention to retain his crown but is focused on the future with an influx of young blood.
“Last year was great, we achieved what we wanted to achieve and we won some big races and got the championship, which was my goal,” Fownes said.
“My championship hopes, God willing, will come again next season. I’m just giving myself a chance to rebuild with nice, fresh stock and I’ve done that.
“I’ve got some really nice clients, some really nice horses and I think next season will be a good one. Whatever I get this season is going to be a bonus and my target is to win the Derby again.”
There is also a big milestone on the horizon, with Fownes just 11 winners short of 1,000 in Hong Kong.
“We won the Group One [Hong Kong Sprint] in December and there are a few more things I want to tick off this season – including to get to 1,000 winners, which we’re not far off – so there is a few nice things to look forward to,” Fownes said.
The hunt for winners continues on Wednesday at Happy Valley, where Fownes has more than a couple of chances of saluting, including with horses attempting to strike for the first time in Hong Kong.
Rack 'em & stack 'em! @zpurton dictates terms aboard Savvy Kingman who rolls home to give the Australian his fifth win for the afternoon. 💪 #HKracing pic.twitter.com/jZ5yuxLMoK— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 6, 2022
Storm Legend, who has caught the eye when making late headway in his last two starts, runs in the Class Three Cypress Handicap (1,650m) and Fownes is confident he has what it takes to succeed.
“I think he’s got something to give but he hasn’t done it yet,” Fownes said. “He’s racing well and running home in decent sectionals but that will change if he gets a good inside barrier and can take advantage of that.
“Harry Bentley rides him and if he can get a good position around fifth or sixth in midfield, then he’s in with a chance.”
Caspar Fownes unveils another Hong Kong Derby hopeful
Nearly Fine has come close to winning on a couple of occasions in his first season in Hong Kong and lines up in the first section of the Class Four Spruce Handicap (1,650m), with Fownes hopeful his turn may not be far away.
“He’s a nice horse and has been racing really well,” Fownes said. “He’s been consistent without winning but it’s only a matter of time before he does.”
Amazing News, who runs in the second section of the Class Four Spruce Handicap (1,650m), is yet to win in 15 Hong Kong starts but Fownes thinks the horse is capable of passing the post in front in the city.
“He’s had a couple of excuses his last two starts, running well and taking the wrong option,” Fownes said. “If things go right for him, he’s definitely got a couple of wins in him. I’m confident of that.”
One of Fownes’ runners who has performed well is Fast Pace. A four-time winner in Hong Kong, he tackles 2,200m for the first time in the Class Three Fountain Palm Handicap.
“We’re stretching him out to 2,200m, which is going to be a test for him, but he’s fit,” Fownes said. “He’s already done his job for us and whatever we get from now on in is a bonus.”
Another Fownes stalwart is Lucky Quality, who has won twice for Fownes and runs in the Class Four Larch Handicap (1,200m).
“His rating is where it should be and it gives him a chance to win,” Fownes said. “If he draws an inside gate, he has a chance.”