Caspar Fownes seeks more Group 3 Centenary Vase success

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Senor Toba

Upbeat after a midweek double, will chase a third consecutive Group 3 Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m) triumph when the four-time champion trainer saddles last year's winner Senor Toba and talented Straight Arron in the HK$4.2 million feature at on Sunday.

Fownes produced Zebrowski in 2022 before Senor Toba's victory last season and he hopes his pair can again contend strongly this year in a capacity field of 14.

“Senor Toba appears to be well. I thought he had a nice trial on Friday (26 January). He comes with a nice galloping weight of 125 (lb) and he looks good, so we're hopeful that he comes back and did what he did last year,” Fownes said of the grey, who will start from barrier 11 under Keagan De Melo.

, who dominated at Happy Valley on Wednesday night with four winners, Straight Arron from barrier three as Fownes plots a course towards the (2000m) with the five-year-old.

“He's good. He's got a big weight – 135 (lb) – but it's a nice way for Hughie to get acquainted with him before the big race three weeks later. I thought it was a nice way for him (Bowman) to get to know the horse and if things work out on Sunday, he has a chance to win.

“Either way, Hugh will just get a good feel for the horse and be cherry ripe for the big day,” Fownes said.

Fownes has delivered four wins with Straight Arron, who was excellent in finishing fourth to Romantic Warrior in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) on December 10.

While Straight Arron has been nominated for both the Group 1 (2410m) and the Group 1 Dubai Turf (1800m), Fownes is non-committal about to travelling to the middle east.

“He's been entered for Dubai and if he comes out and runs really well at set weights (in the Group 1 Hong Kong ), that's the only way you could look at it (travelling) because it's just not feasible because the other horses – the international horses – are just too good and we have to be realistic,” Fownes said.

“His performance in December (Hong Kong Cup) was great. He was unlucky and he hit a new high there. His last race was a mile (sixth to in the Group 1 Stewards' Cup), which we know doesn't suit him but 1800 (metres), he's shown that he can perform at 1800 (metres) and over 2000 (metres) and up, so this race will tell us where we are with him.”

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