Fownes keen to establish Straight Arron’s standing on international stage

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is hopeful Straight Arron can prove his wares against elite opposition, including , in the HK$39 million Group 1 Dubai Turf (1800m) at Meydan on Saturday night despite drawing barrier 12.

To be ridden by Brenton Avdulla, Straight Arron faces 15 opponents as Fownes bids to better his stable's previous best result at the Dubai World Cup meeting – Lucky Nine's third behind Krypton Factor in the 2012 Group 1 (1200m, dirt).

“It (the barrier draw) is , but it is what it is,” said Fownes, who has accumulated prolific Group 1 victories in Hong Kong and Singapore. “We'll get back and hopefully he (Straight Arron) can finish off nicely. He's going well so we're hopeful he can bring a peak performance.

“He's good, he seems to be bright and happy and he's eating well. He looks healthy, he's got a nice, shiny coat. He did a nice bit of pace work this week (Wednesday, March 27), so let's see how we go.”

Straight Arron will clash with 2023 Hong Kong Derby (2000m) and 2024 Group 1 Stewards' Cup (1600m) winner Voyage Bubble, who has drawn in gate one for and and 14 other decorated international rivals, including , who is chasing a fourth consecutive win in the race.

Fownes is mindful of the challenge Straight Arron faces, but he remains upbeat.

“You've got to see where you stand against those horses and see how he is travelling. If he can run in the first five, I'd be very, very chuffed,” Fownes said.

“That's what we're looking for. And to see how he goes against the other Hong Kong horse (Voyage Bubble) that beat him convincingly last time.”

Bidding to become the first Hong Kong trainer to win the Dubai Turf – the race was previously known as the Group 2 Dubai Duty Free when Ivan Allan's Fairy King Prawn finished second over 1777m at Nad Al Sheba in 2001 – Fownes believes Straight Arron has the versatility to cope at 1800m, a distance he has won at twice in Hong Kong.

“This horse is quite versatile – that's why we've dropped him back to 1800m for this race,” Fownes said.

and Sight Success will carry Hong Kong's hopes in the HK$11.7 million G1 (1200m) on Saturday night.

2024 Group 1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) and 2022 Group 1 Hong Kong Mile (1600m) victor California Spangle will start from barrier five for Tony Cruz and Brenton Avdulla, while Sight Success – who was fourth in this race last season – will jump from gate 12 for John Size and .

The Hong Kong pair will vie with 10 others, including Charlie Appleby's three-year-old filly Star Of Mystery, American speedster Casa Creed, England's Diligent Harry and last season's Al Quoz Sprint winner Danyah.

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