He’ll have one of the leading hopes in this season’s Hong Kong Derby in a fortnight in the shape of Senor Toba but already Caspar Fownes has next year’s Classic Series on his mind after Galaxy Witness completed a hat-trick of wins at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Sent out a $2.4 favourite in the Class Three Hyacinth Handicap (1,400m), the three-year-old son of Star Witness was strong late as he remained unbeaten with an impressive victory.

“He’s a nice horse, he’s slowly improving – he’s gone from 1,000m to 1,200m to 1,400m and he’s still learning,” Fownes said.

Galaxy Witness has handled every step up in distance with aplomb and has done nothing to suggest he won’t thrive at a mile and beyond with an eye to the 2023 four-year-old series.

“He’s quite nice for next season, we’re going to have some fun with him. He’s done his job nicely and I hope that we can get another [win] with him,” Fownes said.

“He’s the type of horse who’s going to get further, so we’re going to treat him like a good horse – which he is – and keep progressing.”

Galaxy Witness has answered every challenge Fownes has thrown at him so far and his first Class Three assignment was no different.

After positioning his charge on the rail just behind midfield, Joao Moreira angled Galaxy Witness out straightening for home and was quick to find clear air.

Galaxy Witness reeled his rivals in with a minimum of fuss, with the Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained Super Dynamite three-quarters of a length away in second and Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s En Pointe third.

The win completed a double for both jockey and trainer, with Fownes also taking out the Class Five Tulip Handicap (1,200m) with Telecom Missile and Moreira snaring the day’s Class Two contest atop the Chris So Wai-yin-trained Enjoying.

Enjoying breaks through

That victory from Enjoying was the galloper’s first win in Hong Kong after a long time of trying, with the six-year-old breaking through in his 20th start in the city in the Dendrobium Handicap (1,800m).

A dual Group Two winner in Australia pre-import, Enjoying was brought to Hong Kong for the 2020 Derby and finished fourth in that year’s Classic Cup but didn’t make it to his ultimate target after having trouble with a heart irregularity in the weeks before the race.

That Classic Cup run was his last of five for John Moore before he was transferred to Douglas Whyte, where he produced a second and four 10ths under the tutelage of the South African.

Enjoying then joined the Chris So Wai-yin yard last April and had placed in three of his past four starts before Sunday’s watershed victory under Moreira – the Brazilian’s first ride aboard the galloper.

Ting’s gamble pays off

Jimmy Ting Koon-ho’s throw at the stumps with Mission Bravo paid handsome dividends, with the four-year-old taking out the Class Four Snapdragon Handicap (1,650m) on the all-weather track at the odds of $80.

With a best finish of ninth from six Hong Kong starts on the turf, Ting decided to roll the dice on the dirt purely to ensure Mission Bravo got a run.

“I originally entered him for the 1,600m on the turf but he wasn’t going to get a start, so I transferred him to the dirt – but I didn’t know how he would go on the dirt,” Ting said.

Luke Ferraris rated Mission Bravo nicely in front after taking up the running from barrier 12 and he held off second favourite Blotting Paper by a short head, with Unite Spirit four and three-quarter lengths away in third.

Flying Ace extends unbeaten run to four after giving favourite backers a fright

It was Ferraris’ ninth win of his maiden Hong Kong campaign and his second for Ting.

“Luke rode a great race, he set a good pace and he won the race,” the trainer said.

Ting had a double two races later thanks to debutant Smiling Collector, who took out the Class Four Marigold Handicap (1,200m) under Keith Yeung Ming-lun.

Allowed to stride freely outside leader Happy Tango, Smiling Collector was too strong for Manfred Man Ka-leung’s Happy Forever in the finish.

“He’s a nice horse. He did a lot of things wrong today and the jockey said he was very green,” Ting said. “He was looking around everywhere, so I think he will improve off this run.”

Man’s disappointment was short-lived, with the veteran trainer making a trip to the winner’s circle after smart youngster Flying Season saluted in the very next contest.

After a flashing second when sent out a $37 chance on debut last month, three-year-old colt Flying Season went one better under Jerry Chau Chun-lok in the Class Four Kalanchoe Handicap (1,000m).