Caspar Fownes is no stranger to using the Class 1 HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup Handicap (1200m) as a pathway to LONGINES Hong Kong International Races glory and the trainer holds high hopes that Southern Legend can stamp himself as a December candidate with a positive effort in Sunday’s (2 September) feature.
Fownes won the traditional season-opening highlight in 2010 with Lucky Nine, who a year later added the G1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) to his record, the pinnacle in an illustrious career. While Southern Legend is yet to prove himself as belonging in the same company as Lucky Nine, the handler believes that the six-year-old – a last-start winner of the Kranji Mile in Singapore – is ready for what will be his toughest season to date.
“He’s coming along really well,” Fownes said at Sha Tin on Friday morning (31 August). “Obviously, the 1200m will be a bit on the sharp side for him and the 133lb is a concern, giving some nice young horses a bit of weight. But he’s very well in himself and we’ll just try to progress through each race coming up into December.”
The December feature that Fownes is eyeing off with Southern Legend is the HK$25m G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, a race which the trainer won with The Duke in 2006.
“I think the Mile will suit him, he’ll be cherry ripe by then,” he said. “He likes his racing so we’ll follow a similar path to last year, except he’s got the rating on the board this time so I think he’s there, ready to fight with the big boys.”