Trainer Caspar Fownes believes that Rise High is a horse headed for Hong Kong’s biggest races and hopes that the four-year-old can take a further step along that path when he contests Sunday’s (20 May) Class 2 Tourmaline Handicap (1600m) at Sha Tin.
Fownes was on hand at Sha Tin this morning (Friday, 18 May) to watch his highest-rated horse Southern Legend finish first past the post in an all-weather track trial. The five-year-old flies to Singapore overnight, along with the Tony Millard-trained Horse Of Fortune, to contest next Saturday’s (26 May) Kranji Mile.
However, Fownes’ immediate focus is on Rise High, with the trainer suggesting that the Myboycharlie gelding may end up as a foe for Southern Legend in the next couple of seasons.
“Rise High is a horse I’ve always had a huge opinion about,” Fownes said. “He missed the Derby but I’ve always thought he was the type that could get to that level. For me, he’s a horse that will reach 110 points, no problems. Then, once they hit that mark, it’s like every horse here – you have to step them up into Group races and see whether they can do it.
“I feel he is that type of horse though because he’s still got a bit of a shell there, there’s something to work with. The next three months, if he can put on 40 or 50 pounds, which is what I am looking at, I think we’ve got a serious horse for next season – a Group-calibre horse.”
Rise High returned from a two-month break on Champions Day (29 April), producing a strong win under Zac Purton over the same course and distance as Sunday’s contest.
“Hopefully he can come out and do the same thing again on the weekend,” Fownes said. “He’s very well and he’s got a good gate (three) so he’ll get his chance.”
Purton will ride Rise High (130lb) once more in Sunday’s contest.
Another four-year-old potentially heading for Group company is Morethanlucky (130lb). The Frankie Lor-trained galloper has not raced since finishing eighth in the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) in February, but had impressed when finishing third to Nothingilikemore and Singapore Sling in the Hong Kong Classic Mile a month earlier.