Columbus County Edged Out Again

Steve Bennett Steve Bennett
  • Four-Year-Old could miss the Classic Cup
Columbus County (*8) finishes second to Butterfield


Former New Zealand galloper Columbus County could miss the HK$10 million Classic Cup after falling short of victory again.

The Caspar Fownes-trained four-year-old fell short of victory again in Sunday’s Class 2 Azalea Hcp (1800m), leading Fownes to considering a different path to follow with the gelding.

Fownes was left disappointed with his performance as he finished second, a half length behind the South American import, Butterfield who now looks set to take part in this year’s BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).

Fownes thought his Redwood gelding had the leaders covered but he couldn’t reel them in over the concluding stages in Sunday’s race, leaving the trainer to consider making a gear change.

“For me, he was disappointing because I thought at the 200 (metres) we had it covered, so I might have to think about whether he needs a pair of cups on,” the trainer said.

“He seemed to get there but didn’t really go on with it, so there’s a chance I’ll put a pair of blinkers or some change of equipment on him – I don’t think he’ll pull with that equipment but it might just have the desired effect when it matters.

“I thought we’d get the win today. Then again, you get beat half a length, you can’t complain too much!”

Fownes has an alternative race to consider for Columbus County which is run on the same day as the Classic Cup.


Columbus County returning to scale 

Run on February 23, an option for connections is a Class 2 event over 2000 metres.

“I’m leaning towards going to the 2000-metre Class 2 rather than the Classic Cup next but I’ll have a think about it and we’ll obviously make the Classic Cup entry”.

“His best racing is ahead of him and we just hope we can fine-tune him for the big day.”

Meanwhile, Danny Shum has options open to him after the success on new stable arrival Butterfield.

Formerly raced in Brazil under the name of Halston, the four-year-old has taken some time to adjust to the Hong Kong racing scene but did it in style on Sunday where he held off the challenges from Columbus County, High Rev and Super Oasis who all looked real threats inside the final 100 metres.


Butterfield after a strong win at Sha Tin

The victory now has Shum considering a HK Derby start for the two-time Group One winner or he could possibly line up in the Classic Cup beforehand.

“The owner has nice expectations, he bought him from Brazil for nice money, not too expensive, but he’s a good horse,” Shum said.

“I have to see how he pulls up but I’m not sure whether or not he will already have enough rating points for the Derby – if he has, we might go straight there.

“But I’ll talk to the owner and we’ll make a decision whether or not we run in the Classic Cup next.”

The HK Classic Cup is the second leg of a three-leg series for four-year-olds which follows the Hong Kong Classic Mile, won this year by the classy Golden Sixty.

The final leg is the HK$20 million Hong Kong Derby (2000m) set to run on Sunday, March 22nd.