Straight Arron’s Jockey Club Cup triumph justifies the faith of Fownes
Straight Arron (Fastnet Rock) continued a building advance towards the Hong Kong Cup (Gr 1, 2000m) next month with an emphatic victory in the Jockey Club Cup (Gr 2, 2000m) at Sha Tin yesterday in a performance which drew the plaudits of trainer Caspar Fownes and jockey Vincent Ho.
Accelerating from the tail of the field, clocking 23.20s over the final 400 metres, the Fastnet Rock (Danehill) gelding overpowered Sword Point (American Pharoah) and Money Catcher (Ferlax) to confirm Fownes’s lofty opinion of the five-year-old.
“This horse is a quality animal and he’s just getting to where he should be now. That was a good result for us and it gives us a chance to get into the big race [Hong Kong Cup], which is always tough against the top stayers in the world,” Fownes said.
“But he’s earned his spot there and if they can run in the first four or five on international day, it’s a job done really.
“Like I said in the interview before the race, if [Straight Arron] couldn’t win the way I had him, then I hadn’t got him to where I thought I had. I called it a while ago that I thought he was a 120 [rated] horse and he’s still got a chance to improve on those numbers.”
Fownes will target the Hong Kong Vase (Gr 1, 2400m) with stablemate Senor Toba (Toronado), who finished fifth in yesterday’s event.
“He ran very well there, Senor Toba. He was a bit held up at the wrong time of the race but his run was good. Both horses have run with a lot of merit and I’m very happy,” the trainer said.
Jumping from barrier six, Straight Arron was unsuited by the sluggish early tempo as he and Russian Emperor (Galileo) drifted towards the rear of the field behind Money Catcher, Sword Point and Nimble Nimbus (Sacred Falls).
“At first when they were going very slow, he was a little bit keen. Matthew [Chadwick] outside of me [on Russian Emperor] tried to push me in as well and when they quickened up, I felt more confident,” said Ho, who angled into the clear approaching the home turn before allowing Straight Arron to slip through the gears.
“He is also a good horse, Straight Arron and 2000 [metres] is his best distance as well. We had some ‘prep’ races before this and he’s coming up with this form so we’re glad to see his performance today and he will improve from this and perform at the internationals if he gets in.”
Straight Arron won by three-quarters of a length with a neck separating Sword Point and Money Catcher.