“It’s nice to get a horse like this to win,” Fownes said. “He’s a horse that is just starting to put it all together, so I’m looking forward to getting him back to Sha Tin and getting his rating up – if we can get his rating to 110 in the next race or two, we’ll see how we go.”
Southern Legend’s record now reads two wins from five starts in Hong Kong. Last time out, the bay went down by a head when conceding 13lb to Pingwu Spark, a horse many watchers, including Fownes, rate highly.
“His last run was outstanding,” the trainer said. “He chased what I think is a serious horse in Pingwu Spark, giving him a bit of weight. It would be nice for him to draw a gate though – he’s got good gate speed and if he can sit there fourth or fifth, it would make his job a lot easier and we might see what sort of horse he really is. That was a big effort today for him to do that against some decent Happy Valley horses.”
Rawiller believes he already has a good handle on what sort of horse Southern Legend might become.
“He’s a really nice horse and I’d hope he can get a mile,” he said, after the 2.8 favourite had swept past Mr Genuine (123lb) to clock 1m 09.28s. “I thought if he could have won the other day he might have gone 1400 (metres) and then had a chance of getting in the Hong Kong Mile in December.
“He’s still probably learning a bit as he goes along. What he’s done so far has been on raw ability and he’s just got to become rock hard – all the really good horses here have that, they know the ropes and they don’t have too many chinks in their armour. I have no doubt he can get to higher levels.”
Rawiller sealed a treble on the day, having teamed with the Fownes-trained Mega Heart to take race seven, the Class 3 Shum Wan Handicap (1000m). The Australian rider’s strong drive was also in evidence when the Richard Gibson-trained Victory Duke took the third contest, the Class 5 Nam Fung Handicap (1200m) at odds of 7.9.
“It makes a big difference to your confidence,” Rawiller said after taking his season’s tally to 13. “What makes it good is that I’ve done some hard yards here – I did have to more or less start at the bottom here but I’ve always been driven. I’m not going to rest on my laurels, I’m starting to make a few inroads and I’m starting to get good support from the crowd, I can hear them, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of that.”
In the afternoon’s penultimate race, the Class 2 Wong Chuk Hang Handicap (1650m), Matthew Chadwick set well-judged fractions to make all on the Tony Cruz-trained The Golden Age (123lb). The winning time was 1m 40.27s.
A Group 3 winner at 1400m in France when named Kontrastat, the chestnut needed three starts last term just to find his feet in Hong Kong. The My Risk gelding looked at home around the Valley’s tight turns today though, scooting along with ears pricked for a half-length verdict over the fast-finishing top-weight, Sichuan Dar (129lb). The northern hemisphere three-year-old could be a contender for this season’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series.