Fownes will be champion trainer, Badel fined another HK$185,000

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Caspar Fownes will be Hong Kong’s champion trainer for 2020-21.

It’s been a ding-dong battle between Fownes and John Size all season but the former landed the knockout blow at Sha Tin on Sunday with a brilliant quintet.

All the talk in the lead-up to the meeting centred around Fownes’ team – the fact he had four big guns (Southern Legend, Columbus County, Sky Darci and Sky Field) in the two Group Threes and two really promising types in Killer Bee and War Weapon. It looked like it was going to be the day.

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The evergreen Southern Legend got a much-deserved win – his first since the 2020 Champions Mile – and Sky Field continued his evolution by running out a strong 1,400m in the Premier Cup.

Caspar Fownes makes title fight ‘statement’ with electrifying Sha Tin five-timer

Killer Bee showed why he’s one of the leading contenders for next season’s four-year-old series with another imperious performance while the less said about the barbecue of War Weapon the better.

So while the big guns delivered, some of the lesser-lights also shined – and that was the difference.

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Joy Master’s win at $12 in the opening race was followed up by Lucky Quality’s sprint down the straight and now the margin is seven with seven meetings to go.

Now in theory, that can be overcome, but it won’t happen.

Fownes is enjoying his career-best season – he’s already got six more winners than his previous best of 68 from 2008-09.

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The 53-year-old is throwing the kitchen sink at this title chase – he wants it badly and he still has a few cards to play.

“We’re there and we’ve got the momentum going. I’ve got a lot more winners coming so I’m happy, feeling good,” he said on Sunday.

Fownes was bracing for the fight to go down to the wire and preparing his team accordingly.

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John Size punches back in fight for trainers’ title

But when Size had his treble on July 13 and cut Fownes’ lead to two, the 11-time champion was asked if he had any ammunition left up his sleeve in the race for the title. The answer was instructive: “I wouldn’t think so, no”.

With a clear margin now in place and the leader pushing hard to the finish and the other winding down, the outcome is clear.

It’s been a fantastic season from Fownes, who thoroughly deserves to win.

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Not only does he have more winners (74) than anyone else, he also has more seconds (69, six more than Tony Cruz) and more thirds (69, 16 ahead of Douglas Whyte). He’s also well ahead on the prize money table too with HK$133 million, almost HK$13 million more than Francis Lui Kin-wai.

On every metric, he has been the stand-out performer and he can now enjoy the run home before officially collecting his fourth title.

Badel’s hip pocket hit again

It’s been an expensive few days for Alexis Badel, who continues to earn the ire of stewards and was whacked a hefty HK$185,000 for two offences on Sunday.

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On Friday, the Frenchman was suspended for five meetings and hit with a HK$240,000 fine after pleading guilty to failing to use all reasonable and permissible measures to achieve the best possible result aboard V Chevaliers earlier this month.

That monster fine came into play in lieu of an extra four-meeting suspension because the season is coming to a close and there is a reluctance to enforce punishments across campaigns.

So with no wriggle room left, Badel was slugged a HK$180,000 penalty after pleading guilty to careless riding on Run Run Good in the opening event. That’s the equivalent of a three-meeting suspension.

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Alexis Badel banned for the final five meetings of the season, fined HK$240,000

He also copped a HK$5,000 fine for dropping his whip on Fast Most Furious in the Premier Plate. Jockeys are put on notice the third time they do that in a season with a financial penalty coming on the fourth occasion. It will continue to escalate after that.

Two others were hit with bans on Sunday with Ruan Maia outed for two meetings and fined HK$7,500 for careless riding on Marado while Matthew Poon Ming-fai was suspended for the same period after causing interference on Lucky Patch in the Premier Cup.

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