By Hans Ebert

He’s not exactly the Rodney Dangerfield of Hong Kong racing, but, perhaps because, at least outwardly, his casual, fun approach on course and adding zing into proceedings with some impromptu victory dance moves to break from “tradition” like those cardboard cutout presentation ceremonies- can there BE anything more stiff and pukka?- these sometimes take away from his very many accomplishments as a horse trainer.

All that “King of the Valley” stuff- his success rate at the city track which has followed him for decades- overshadows some damn big feats in his chosen profession.

One was reminded of these accomplishments at Shatin Racecourse today when his Dances With Dragon absolutely annihilated a field of eight in the Group 3 Premier Plate.

This win aside and with the galloper being the outsider in the race and extremely well ridden by the out-of-form local rider Keith Yeung, Dances With Dragon was seen as the second string in his bow.

His far better credentialed Southern Legend was sent out as one of the favourites. You wouldn’t have known it watching “The Dragon” taken to the front and, well, giving the others windburn.

What’s seldom mentioned is that this galloper was formerly with the Peter Ho yard. Apart from playing a major role in seeing Italian jockey Alberto Sanna hauled in on a running and riding charge when the galloper zigzagged itself to end up an “unlucky” fourth, the galloper found it difficult to win.

Tired of keeping the galloper with Peter Ho and waiting for this elusive winner, the owners moved Dances With Dragon to the Fownes yard.

At his first start for his new home, the previously winless Dances With Dragon started favourite in a race at Happy Valley. With Zac Purton aboard, the horse won with consummate ease. Wonder what his previous trainer must have been thinking? And also thinking when Dances With Dragon won twice more at the city track.

Today, it was decided that the galloper race at Shatin. Perhaps thinking “The Dragon” only breathed fire at Happy Valley, he was sent out at around 16 to 1. Dances With Dragon won like an odds-on pop.

Away from this galloper, the Caspar Fownes roll call and curriculum vitae is more than impressive. This includes much. There was the fight for him to be granted a trainer’s license. It made headline news.

There was him coming into his own while being son of the very popular Lawrie Fownes.

Add to this, his many successes with gallopers like the very much overlooked Lucky Nine, The Duke, Green Birdie, and Rise High.

He’s won many of the biggest races in Hong Kong, and successfully mapped out the strategy for Southern Legend to win twice in Singapore.

Not gone unnoticed is his ongoing and unwavering support of his former apprentice Vincent CY Ho. He’s always been there to help those new riders to Hong Kong needing a leg-up.

There was then those months watching from the sidelines, but not knowing how to help or what to say as he wrestled to carry on while looking after his ailing father and awaiting the inevitable.

We stay in touch. Lunch with Cas is never boring. There’s nothing to hide, no games to play. It’s two friends catching up on what’s been happening with each other, exchanging our very unique skills in impersonating quite a few in the racing fraternity and enjoying our lunches while watching them swim in anything with chillis.

Knowing the waiters and managers in nearly every restaurant in town and being fluent in Cantonese and Punjabi- he was born in Calcutta- he has his own secret recipes for chilli sauces.

Those working in the Indian restaurants in town also know to pack him a Doggy bag comprising only the minced meat found inside a samosa. That’s his breakfast for the next day.

Fun, serious, all business, someone who doesn’t suffer fools gladly and who can give as good as he gets, many eyes will be on how he fares with the Aethero challenge- the former John Moore trained sprinter. Because of injuries, the galloper’s potential was never fully realised.

Win, lose or draw, Caspar has taken on a task others would not have done. That’s already put him ahead of the game.

And if and when Aethero returns to racing as a winner, well, that’s a bonus.

#CasparFownes #trainer #HKtrainer #LawrieFownes #Aethero