Charlie Fellowes has a charm and approachability that is probably nudging Group 1 class but talking to Prince Of Arran’s trainer one continually gets the impression of restless ambition and his comments regarding Sunday’s (8 December) G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) start to illustrate this.
“We have unfinished business in Hong Kong,” the 33-year-old Newmarket trainer declared firmly.
The “unfinished business” concerns Prince Of Arran’s eighth placing in last year’s race, having arrived off a fantastic third in the G1 Melbourne Cup. Another memorable Flemington performance last month saw the powerful bay gelding finish even closer in Australia’s greatest race, a narrow third to Vow And Declare that turned into second after the dramatic demotion of Frankie Dettori’s mount Master Of Reality.
“I told everyone at Sha Tin last December that Prince Of Arran was in even better shape than he had been in Australia but he got gate 14 and nothing went right for him. Actually I think he still ran a huge race, all things considered,” he said.
This year Fellowes wants a helping hand to come his way at Thursday’s Barrier Draw ceremony: “I wouldn’t want to be right on the inside but three to seven would be ideal. Our horse doesn’t want to lead but he wants to be close up. That is how he likes to race.”
Prince Of Arran moved into Fellowes’ stable not long after the trainer had himself become licensed and he was named shortly before his first race, following a holiday visit of his owner-breeder Saeed Bel Obaida to the beautiful Scottish island of Arran.
The horse didn’t show anything special early but has developed into the type of racehorse that according to Fellowes you might have to wait 20 years to find, with his money-spinning quality being revealed abroad rather than at home.
“He is a highly intelligent horse and seems to find travelling very stimulating so it keeps him fresh. Also I think that intelligence means that he only does as much as he has to – all his wins have been by narrow margins – so you never really get to the bottom of him and that also implies that he can last longer as a racehorse,” the handler said.