The man who briefly trained Classique Legend last year had plans to tour the grey all over the world, including a return to Sydney for Saturday’s The Everest, and revealed his plans to bring his own Hong Kong star out for next year’s $15m Randwick feature.
Four-time champion Hong Kong trainer Caspar Fownes prepared Classique Legend for one run in December at Sha Tin and was preparing him for the group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize in the Hong Kong spring when the grey bled from one nostril.
Fownes said horses like Classique Legend “come along once in a lifetime”. Having got to know the horse and after watching his two recent trials back in the care of Les Bridge, he expects him to ignite on the weekend and complete the Everest double.
While disappointed Classique Legend only had the one run in his care, Fownes said he only wanted success for Bridge and owner Bon Ho this weekend.
“I’ve watched his two trials and Mr Bridge looks like he’s got the horse spot-on for Saturday – I hope the horse comes out and blows them all away, because that would make me happy,” Fownes told the Herald.
“Horses like him only come along once in a lifetime. He’s a superstar and, hopefully, we see that again on Saturday. He trialled with a lot of zest, then in his second trial he didn’t come off the bridle.
The popular grey has drawn barrier five for Saturday’s big race.Credit:Getty
“I think Les has got him right where he wants him to give him one crack at it. I know when I was getting him ready over here this year, it felt like he was ready to explode and cut loose. And from what I’ve seen, Classique Legend is ready to do just that on the weekend.
“He was absolutely flying when he was returning for his second run here. After his final gallop I remember jockey Zac Purton telling me, ‘There’s nothing in Hong Kong that will beat him’. But he had some blood come out of his nostril and we had to call it.
“He was a great horse but one who in the end didn’t adapt to the Hong Kong environment and his share of problems.”
Fownes planned to tackle all the rich sprints in Hong Kong, as well as cashed-up races in Japan, Dubai and a return to Randwick for The Everest.
Even Purton, who has ridden no shortage of superstars, said of Classique Legend on Tuesday: “I trialled him against some good horses and the feeling he gave me was unbelievable. I remember getting off him thinking we’re going to the races and winning. The next time I galloped him he was equally as good, but then pulled up with that trickle [of blood]. He had a great action and covered the ground with ease.”
He described Classique Legend as a “dude” who “was so chilled in his box”, but a horse who was lame when he first arrived from Australia and required some love and “one of the worst wind-suckers I’d seen”.
Fownes can now only dare to dream about The Everest, and nominated a horse like Sky Field who could be a prime candidate in 2022. The one thing The Everest has lacked is a genuine international flavour, and apart from The Inferno, who is now an adopted Aussie after plying his trade in Singapore, Irish master Aidan O’Brien has fielded the only other foreigners, with US Navy Flag and Ten Sovereigns failing to run a place in 2018 and 2019.
“I’ve got some really good horses in my yard,” Fownes said. “I’ve got the second-best horse in Hong Kong, Southern Legend, and Sky Field is a star in the making. He’s very progressive, can run 1200m and be stretched out to the mile and the right horse for a race like The Everest.”
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