‘It’s been a magic season’: Fownes officially secures his fourth trainers’ title

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Caspar Fownes is officially Hong Kong’s champion trainer for 2020-21.

The 53-year-old secured his fourth title at Sha Tin on Sunday – to go with his ones from 2006-07, 2008-09 and 2013-14 – taking an unassailable 79 to 72 lead over John Size with just nine races to go.

Given Size is set to have just three runners at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, the contest is over – a remarkable comeback after Fownes fell seven winners behind during the card on May 23.

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On that day, the 11-time champion had a treble in the first four races – including a Group Three with Courier Wonder – but Fownes responded to capture three of the final five to stay within touching distance.

Since that moment it has been all one-way traffic as Fownes has finished with a flourish, 18 victories to Size’s seven.

The trainer is rightfully proud of the achievement.

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“I’m extremely happy for all of the team. We’ve all worked hard and it’s been a great challenge, a great fight – and a lot of fun,” said Fownes, who made an appearance in the winner’s stall with Green Envy.

“We’ve had a very big season and the pressure has been on the last couple of months. When John went seven ahead of me on the 23rd of May, it was going to look quite tough to come back and beat him because he’s such a great trainer and a great champion over the years.

“I always felt I had a good chance this year. We had the horses in great positions and they were in form.

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“We got a lot of seconds, a lot of thirds and now a lot of winners, so it’s been a wonderful season.

“I like to fight, I like the challenge and I was there for it all season. It’s wonderful how it’s worked out.

“We’ve put a lot of hard work in and we’ve got a lot of good horses in the stable. I’m looking forward to next season already, but it’s been a magic season.”

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For his part, Size also managed to collect a couple of victories on Sunday with talented youngsters Drops Of God and Blaze Warrior continuing their march up the ratings with impressive wins as odds-on favourites.

“That’s probably what you’d expect from [Blaze Warrior] given his last two starts. He looked like he’s taken some sort of benefit from his two previous experiences, he’s gone on with the job and he’s doing things workmanlike. He’s got a few wins left in him, I’d say,” he said.

“[Drops Of God] had some excuses his last two starts and today he made those excuses look legitimate, so we’re happy with that.”

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The Australian will have to wait another year to break his deadlock with George Moore for the most championships in Hong Kong racing history.

“I have to be satisfied with [the season], 72 winners is a pretty good score. I’m reasonably pleased with the outcome,” Size said.

“Caspar’s horses run straight and true every week and when you get up near 80 you deserve to win.”

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The man who played a huge role in both Fownes’ and Size’s success this campaign is Joao Moreira, who rode 40 winners for each of them.

The Brazilian superstar was aboard for all of their successes on Sunday – first with Green Envy for Fownes before completing the card with Drops Of God and Blaze Warrior for Size. He also had a winner for Me Tsui Yu-sak (Dragon Commander) in between, giving him a quartet.

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It took Moreira’s tally to 156 winners for the term – 31 ahead of his long-time rival Zac Purton – while he also celebrated his 1,100th Hong Kong victory in the process.

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“It’s meaningful. I wouldn’t ever dream to get to this mark when I started off but I was blessed enough to get there but I did not get there alone,” Moreira said of the milestone.

“I had great support from the family – psychologically big-time. That’s what it’s all about and I’m glad I didn’t let them down.”

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