YOU CAN guarantee that trainer Caspar Fownes eyes would have lit up when he heard there was a £20,000 prize up for grabs for gaining the most points in the International Jockeys Challenge on Wednesday.
53-year-old Fownes, the current runaway leader in the trainers’ title race with 31 winners – nine clear of his nearest pursuer Frankie Lor – sends nine runners to Happy Valley, including a handful of contenders in the four IJC contests.
It’s worth mentioning that the former three-time champion trainer has a staggering record at the city track already this season, with a 42% win and place strike-rate from just 81 runners.
Progressive galloper Fast Pace will be fancied to follow up his recent victory in the France Handicap (11.30am) over the extended mile, while the likes of the improving Lucky Quality in the third IJC leg (2.10pm) and the useful Green Luck in the United Kingdom Handicap (2.50pm) also have leading chances.
However, his best chance looks to be last start winner ROYAL RACER who lines-up in the second IJC leg (12.40pm) over the extended mile trip.
Fownes has had his work cut out trying to keep this talented five-year-old fit and healthy, after a catalogue of health issues early in his career, but has finally got him in the peak condition.
It was hard not to be impressed by his recent runaway success against similar opposition over the course and distance a fortnight ago, and with Joao Moreira back in the saddle, he can overcome a penalty and outside draw to win again.
Royal Racer 12.40pm Happy Valley