• February 21, 2018
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dubai world cup

Fownes eyes DWC win to push dirt track agenda in Hong Kong

Trainer believes Chinese autonomous region is too pre-occupied with turf despite potential for dirt surfaces

18:22 March 22, 2016

Dubai: Victory for a Hong Kong horse on Dubai World Cup night would push the agenda for improved dirt racing in the Chinese autonomous region, according to South East Asian-based trainer Caspar Fownes.

Fownes who has Gun Pit running in the Dubai World Cup and Domineer in the Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan this Saturday said Hong Kong was ignoring the success of its dirt horses on the international stage, and it needed a big win to show racing authorities there that they were overlooking potential.

“It would be huge if a Hong Kong horse could win it because it would prove a point,” said the Briton. “They say Hong Kong racing is synonymous with turf, and dirt is not really considered, which is a shame because we’ve got so many great horses.

“For us to have a few on the world stage shows they should treat it more seriously and consider raising their game starting with racing higher level Group 3 to Group 1s there, because we are competitive on dirt wherever we go.”

Hong Kong has found particular success in the Golden Shaheen where they finished second and third with Super Jockey and Rich Tapestry behind Secret Circle last year and first and second with Sterling City and Rich Tapestry the year before.

“One hundred per cent, there should a lobby,” added Fownes. “You have South Korea coming up with a couple of big dirt races, so Hong Kong has to pick their game up. We’ve proven that there are so many good horses, and we’ve got to give our clients the chance to perform at a better level so that when we travel we know we can be even more competitive.”

Of Gun Pit’s chances, Fownes said: “Obviously we respect the quality of the field but we feel he has a live chance to pick up a first five placing.

“It just depends on how the track plays because three weeks ago you had to lead to win, so I’m sure they will try to fix that, because it’s fairly one dimensional. But if the track is fair, it will suit the horse well as he can come up with speed.”

And of Domineer, who is up against three other Hong Kong horses in the Golden Shaheen with Rich Tapestry, Super Jockey and Master Kochanwong, he added: “He’s a good dirt horse, not the best in Hong Kong but he’s inside the top three, he’s on good form and is another first four chance for sure.

“On paper this race will be where the Hong Kong horses are very competitive, as they are year-in, year-out, they have proven they are up there with the big boys, and are challenging to win, and it’s the same this year. With these four Hong Kong horses there isn’t much between them.”

In total Hong Kong has seven runners on Dubai World Cup night this year, including Peniaphobia and Not Listenin’tome on turf in the Al Quoz Sprint.