Caspar Fownes has subpoenaed Classic Series suspect Galaxy Witness to give evidence in his own defence in Sunday’s Class Two Swan Handicap (1,400m) at Sha Tin and repair his damaged reputation.
Galaxy Witness lost his unblemished record in June’s Class Two Mount Cameron Handicap (1,600m), the $1.4 favourite unable to reel in All For St Paul’s and Bourbonaire after commencing his career with four victories over trips ranging from 1,000m to 1,400m.
Odds-on punters might not want to know, but there were mitigating circumstances for Galaxy Witness’ loss.
The contest was run at such a slow tempo that, even though it was the equal-longest event on the 11-race card, front runners All For St Paul’s and Bourbonaire posted two of the day’s five fastest final furlongs.
Joao Moreira, who rode Galaxy Witness throughout his first campaign, told Jockey Club stewards his well-supported mount laid out under pressure, which he attributed to the beaten favourite’s immaturity.
Fownes, away from the knee-jerk verdicts of most post-race postmortems conducted in the emotion-charged atmospheres of unsaddling areas, had an even simpler explanation. It was one run too many for Galaxy Witness as a three-year-old.
“I was a bit disappointed on the day. He looked like he had the race covered at the 200m, but I think he’d come to the end of his season. It was hot. He’d had enough,” said Fownes, who noted All For St Paul’s franked the form on his recent reappearance.
Galaxy Witness has had three trials leading into his competitive return, something that is neither unusual given his statistics – he has trialled before each of his five races – nor unnecessary given his size of more than 1,200 pounds.
“He’s a very big horse. He’s done very well in the summer. These sort of horses, in these conditions, you’ve got to make sure they’re very fit for the races, otherwise you’re going to be in trouble,” said Fownes, who added Sunday’s card-closing contest will double as a discovery mission for Galaxy Witness and his inquisitive trainer.
“He’s had a nice prep leading into his first run back. He’s pleased me in his trials. He’s ready to go to the races, and we have big plans for him, so we hope he can come out and give us a big effort first-up because it looks a strong race. We’re going to know where we are straight off the bat.”
By champion sprinter Star Witness and the half-brother of a 1,200m Listed winner, Galaxy Witness’ best chance of becoming Fownes’ fifth winner of a Classic Series race is likely to come in the Classic Mile on January 29.
“We’ll take each race as it comes. We’ve got to hope for the best. It looks like the mile’s probably going to be his trip. But the way he’s been this prep – he’s very chilled out – means he’s giving us all indications he’ll get further,” Fownes said.