Fownes hopes Shinn can draw positive response from Elliptical

Blake Shinn
Blake Shinn reunites with Elliptical on Sunday.

Searching for his first Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) victory since Green Birdie’s 2008 triumph, Caspar Fownes will unleash a double-pronged attack on Sunday’s HK$13 million feature as a quartet of international jockeys descend on Sha Tin.

Fownes has booked Blake Shinn to ride Elliptical, while Harry Bentley takes the reins on stablemate Awesome Fluke as the Australian black type winners press for Hong Kong breakthroughs.

With Englishman Ryan Moore (Ensued), France’s Mickael Barzalona (Speed Dragon) and Australian Damian Lane (Simply Maverick) also flying in for Sunday’s contest, Fownes hopes Melbourne-based Shinn can coax the best from Elliptical.

Winner of two Australian races, including the 2023 Group 3 C. S. Hayes Stakes (1400m) under Shinn, Elliptical has failed to show his best in four Hong Kong starts, having scoped with a substantial amount of mucus in the trachea after finishing 10th behind Ka Ying Generation over 2000m at Sha Tin on February 4.

“Elliptical is going alright, he’s a better horse than what he’s showing, that’s for sure,” Fownes, a four-time Hong Kong champion trainer, said.

“He’s just taking a bit of time to adjust in Hong Kong, not everything has gone smoothly for him. So, we’ll see – it’s going to be a tough race on the weekend.

“It’s good to have Blake Shinn coming up – he knows the horse really well so he’ll be able to give us a bit more feedback. The horse’s future is way ahead of him. It’s not where he is. I’m just hopeful that he can come up quick.

“It’s good that Blake is coming up to ride most of ours. There’s hopefully a couple of live chances and hopefully we can get a winner.”

Shinn returns to Hong Kong hoping to add to the 77 wins he has accumulated in the city, headlined by Group 1 triumphs aboard Sky Field (2021 Hong Kong Sprint) and Russian Emperor (2022 Hong Kong Gold Cup and 2022 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup).

Crowned champion Victorian metropolitan jockey last year, Shinn will partner five other Fownes’ entrants on Sunday – Charming Steed, Sky Trust, Fruity Warrior, Sky Heart and Kurpany.

Fownes gained a Hong Kong Classic Cup start with Awesome Fluke, who won the Group 2 WATC Derby (2400m) when known as Awesome John and trained by John O’Shea, with the scratching of Tony Cruz’s California Voce.

Joining the Fownes duo in the 2024 Hong Kong Classic Cup are John Size’s Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) victor Helios Express, Helene Feeling, Chill Chibi, Ensued, Beauty Crescent, Speed Dragon, Unbelievable, Chancheng Glory, Ka Ying Generation, Fallon, Simply Maverick and Star Mac.

The Hong Kong Classic Cup is the second leg of the HK$52 million Four-Year-Old Classic Series, which culminates with the running of the HK$26 million Hong Kong Derby (2000m) at Sha Tin on March 24.

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