Revitalised by a brief spell, emerging talent Columbus County will throw down the gauntlet to Hong Kong’s premier stayers in the G3 Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (31 January) as Caspar Fownes plots an ambitious path.
Freshened since a brave third to Ireland’s Mogul in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) on 13 December, Columbus County will face a select group of rivals on Sunday, including the Tony Cruz triumvirate of Exultant, Furore and Time Warp.
While Fownes expects the five-year-old to benefit from the outing, he is confident Columbus County will acquit himself well after returning to handicap conditions from weight-for-age.
“He’s done really well, he’s had a little freshen up in Conghua, he’s back in Hong Kong now,” Fownes said.
“Obviously coming back to handicap conditions should be in his favour even though we’re dropping in distance.
“He’s taking on the best stayers in Hong Kong but he’s getting weight of them so he should run a nice race.
“He should be finishing off nicely.”
Columbus County carried 126lbs when third to Mogul, widely regarded as Aidan O’Brien’s next international star, while finishing half a length astern of Hong Kong champion Exultant.
The handicap conditions of the Centenary Vase has Exultant rising to 133lbs under Zac Purton, while Columbus County will drop to 119lbs for Christophe Soumillon.