IT WILL be full steam ahead for the devoted fans of the Caspar Fownes and Zac Purton combination at Hong Kong’s Happy Valley today.
Champion jockey Purton climbs aboard five of Fownes’ contenders and you can guarantee the locals will be queuing up to back their cash on their favourite course partnership.
In recent seasons, following Fownes and Purton at the inner-city track has been a licence to print money, but after starting this season with a bang, their fortunes have suffered a downturn in the last couple of months.
This can be put down to the form of Fownes, who has saddled just three winners from his last 50 runners, and more importantly has only won a couple of races at his beloved track since late November.
His fortunes will surely change for the better in the near future, possibly even today, but it is something to be aware of.
There will be plenty of money for his twice-raced Naboo Star in the 12.45pm over six furlongs. He was noted making eye-catching late headway after blowing the start last month, but has the outside draw to overcome.
Blocker Dee will be another popular choice in the 1.45pm, while top-weight Bigwood, who lines-up in the 2.15pm, has a favourite’s chance after finishing a close third behind potential HK Derby candidate Ho Ho Khan at Sha Tin.
Another horse that Fownes and Purton are associated with is FEARLESS FIRE, who contests a competitive handicap at 2.50pm and may slip under the radar at bigger odds.
This former UK galloper, known as Mucho Applause when trained by Andrew Balding, was twice placed in a couple of hot handicaps, behind the likes of Defoe and Atty Persse, over distances varying from a mile to 1m2f.
This season he has raced half-a-dozen times over distances no further than six furlongs, winning once at Happy Valley in November.
Last week he stayed on strongly in the closing stages behind Star Of Joy, which should put him spot-on for this afternoon’s extended mile race.
Paul O’Sullivan, who currently sits bottom of the trainers’ championship, will also be hoping for an upward surge in fortunes today.
The likeable New Zealander, who not long ago was handling one of the world’s top sprinters in Aerovelocity, has had a torrid start to the current campaign, saddling his first winner for over a month (and just his fifth overall) when Sacred Ibis won at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Hopefully his luck will change, starting with FORTUNE PATROL who has an each-way chance in the opener at 11.15am.
This son of Rip Van Winkle is now nearing his peak, and will appreciate the step-up in distance.
O’Sullivan has another bright prospect in MERRYGOWIN who carries top-weight in the 1.15pm over the extended mile.
The six-year-old is now back on his last winning rating and offered plenty of hope for the future with an encouraging effort against better company at Sha Tin on New Year’s Day.
Fortune Patrol e/w 11.15am Happy Valley
Merrygowin 1.15pm Happy Valley
Fearless Fire e/w 2.50pm Happy Valley