Fownes takes half the card

Leading trainer kicks away from main rival John Size with a quintet, including both Group 3 races

In a phenomenal show of strength crowned by victories in the final two Group races of the Hong Kong season, Caspar Fownes has taken a decisive upper hand in the battle with John Size for the 2020/21 trainers' championship with a quintet at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Bidding for a fourth title, Fownes leads 11-time champion Size 74-67, with seven meetings left in the current term after his imposing 12-horse string dominated with five victories and two seconds from 10 races.

Champion in 2006/07, 2008/09 and 2013/14, Fownes entered the 81st meeting of the season with a two-win buffer over Size. By day's end, he had boosted his stock in spectacular fashion with victories by Joy Master, Lucky Quality, Southern Legend, Sky Field and Killer Bee to equal his previous best haul at Sha Tin.

Symbolically, his show of strength traversed the age gap - from veteran Southern Legend's Group 3 Premier Plate Handicap triumph to Sky Field's win over stablemate and Hong Kong Derby victor Sky Darci in the Group 3 Premier Cup Handicap to the continued emergence of Killer Bee.

"We needed to do something good, something big that makes a statement and we've done that today," said Fownes. "Now it's good luck, we're there and we've got the momentum going. I've got a lot more winners coming so I'm happy, feeling good. It's been a great day."

Sky Field's rasping finish validated Fownes' faith in the Deep Field gelding, leaving the trainer to plot a possible course to December's Longines Hong Kong International Races.

"I've told you how good he is. The best is yet to come with him, so it's wonderful," said Fownes.

On Southern Legend, he said: "You'd like a few more like him in your stable. He's just a brute, he's got so much heart and he deserved that victory. He's been so consistent all his career and, then in the last 10 runs, he's been in the money each time, so he deserved that win." - HKJC