The sky's the limit for Rise High, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

The sky's the limit for Rise High

Trainer Fownes hopes to take his emerging star to race overseas one day because 'I think he's that good'

Kranji Mile-winning trainer Caspar Fownes was brimming with confidence after his emerging star Rise High scored an emphatic victory in Sunday's Group 3 Premier Plate Handicap - and justifiably so.

Rise High overcame top-weight of 133lb (60.45kg) and a hefty bump at the top of the straight to post a dominant 11/4-length victory from Seasons Bloom (130lb), with Citron Spirit (128lb) third, in the 1,800m Sha Tin feature.

Since the Premier Plate switched to a June slot three years ago, two horses have prevailed under topweight - Helene Paragon and Exultant. Both went on to Group 1 glory the next season.

"Exultant looks to be a superstar but I really believe this horse is the next big thing here," said Fownes of Rise High.

"He's a star, I really believe that and I really hope I get the chance to travel with him because I think he's that good. He's just learning his trade now.

"Once everything falls into place - it's just starting to come - he's starting to take a chill pill, in the yard he's starting to go 'you know what, I'm the dude' and it's fun days ahead."

Rise High was ridden by jockey Vincent Ho, who repaid the faith of his old master with a signpost victory at Sha Tin on Sunday.

"They just got my hind quarters and I got a bit unbalanced. I waited and balanced him up and got going again," said Ho, after landing the final Group race of the Hong Kong season.

"I knew the horse was strong. Today he travelled a lot stronger than I expected and he was in a lovely position in midfield, so I knew he'd take off. I let him start to pick up at the 600m and he has a great turn of foot."

Fownes could have turned to Zac Purton for the feature contest but instead stayed loyal to his former apprentice while the all-conquering champion watched the 11-runner contest from the jockeys' room.

"He could have easily taken me off after we ran second last time," said Ho, referencing Rise High's fast finish behind Hong Kong's top stayer Exultant in the Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup over 2,400m.

"Zac would love to be on him and I'm very grateful that (Caspar) kept me on, and also it's my first Group race win for my old boss, so I'm very happy."

Fownes acknowledged that he could indeed have turned to Purton, who has a record of three wins from seven rides on the Irish import.

"Zac is a superstar, he's proven he's the best rider here, along with Joao (Moreira). He's a great jockey, especially in big-race situations but the opportunity was there for Vincent to retain the ride," said the handler. - HKJC