Leading Australian compatriot Zac Purton by just one win in the 2023/24 Hong Kong jockeys’ championship, Hugh Bowman hopes to successfully harness Caspar Fownes’ powerful start to the season when the pair combines at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (4 October).
With 11 wins and 10 minor placings from 50 rides so far this season, Bowman narrowly holds sway in the jockey title race from six-time Hong Kong champion Purton (10 wins and 20 minor placings from 57 mounts), while Fownes sits second behind Francis Lui (11 wins) in the trainers’ standings with eight victories.
Bowman has provided two of Fownes’ winners so far – Lucky Gor and June Planet – and he reunites with the latter in the Class 4 Shum Wan Handicap (1650m) at Happy Valley tomorrow evening as Fownes looks to close the gap to Lui.
“He’s hit the ground running this season, Caspar, and I know he prepared his team to do exactly that and the results are coming thick and fast and hopefully they continue to do so on Wednesday evening,” Bowman said.
“It was a good win last time by June Planet, he’s been a consistent horse since he arrived here. Last time I rode him with the blinkers on, I couldn’t get him to relax but he still battled on and the other night when I rode him without the blinkers, he relaxed and that’s one thing I would be hopeful of again – that it’s a good, fast-run race, which I think plays to his strength.
“He’s effective at the track and I think he can do a repeat at the track.”
Bowman also partners Explosive Witness for four-time Hong Kong champion Fownes in the Class 3 Nam Fung Handicap (1000m), where Harmony N Blessed bids for his fifth win at the course and distance for David Hayes and Derek Leung.
“He’s (Harmony N Blessed) been very honest and at 1000m, he’s pretty straight-forward. He doesn’t need to lead, he can sit handy and just keep the momentum and he will fight to the end,” Leung said.
“He won’t do anything wrong, (I) just make sure he jumps start and go forward. This time he will carry the top weight (135lb) and it will be a little bit different to last time, so we will see. Last time he won by a small margin (short head) and this time he has to carry top weight, so it will be more difficult for him.”
Upbeat after Ka Ying Cheer’s debut triumph at Sha Tin on Sunday (1 October), Keith Yeung hopes to extend a winning sequence with Joy Coming in the second section of Class 4 Tai Shue Wan Handicap (1200m).
“He’s not a very eye-catching horse in the morning, he’s very lazy and laidback but whenever he comes to the race, he shows his big heart,” Yeung said. “(In races), as soon as he hits the front, he’ll wait for others and as soon as he sees the others coming, he’ll kick again – so, he needs a challenge.”
Drawn in barrier 12, Yeung hopes Joy Coming is able to cross the field without using too much energy.
“It’s a very trick gate, especially with the weight (134lb) but he’s got speed and there doesn’t look to be much speed in the race so hopefully we can get across without doing too much. He jumps quick and he’s a quick horse,” Yeung said.
Wednesday night’s (4 October) eight-race card at Happy Valley starts with the Class 5 Heung Yip Handicap (1650m) at 7.15pm.
By Leo Schlink, HKJC