Caspar Fownes regained the trainers’ championship lead and celebrated the successful race-track return of BMW Hong Kong Derby winner Sky Darci in one fell swoop with a pivotal treble, crowned by G3 Lion Rock Trophy Handicap glory (1600m), at Sha Tin on Sunday (30 May).
Trailing John Size by two winners entering the meeting, Fownes climbed back to the front – 66-65 – with a three-timer to leave the 2020/21 championship balanced on a knife’s edge with 12 meetings left in the season.
Vincent Ho ended a relatively barren month in style with a four-timer, closing the meeting in style on David Hayes’ newcomer Naboo Attack, who made light of his 1360lb frame to claim a HK$1 million High Achievement Bonus on debut.
The highlight for Fownes was Sky Darci’s resumption after a 10-week break, culminating in a short head victory over fellow four-year-old Health Happy. Not Usual Talent was third, one and three-quarter lengths further back.
“On paper it looked a nice comeback race for him, 115 (pounds) on his back and a nice soft draw (barrier three). He landed in the spot we thought he would be, just relaxed and came out and you can see what he’s got,” Fownes said after Sky Darci withstood a fierce challenge from Healthy Happy, who lifted bravely after being headed by the winner.
“Obviously the second horse (Healthy Happy) is a horse we respected coming into the race because we didn’t think there was much pace and obviously, he gave us quite a scare the last 100m.
“He’s a nice horse, the second horse. He’s probably one that’s going to go on with it.
“At the end of the day, we’re very happy to bring him back from the Derby. There’s always pressure on you to get these horses to come back and perform.”