Purton splashes to a handy double
Jockey Zac Purton was responsible for two announcements last night, the first that he would appeal the severity of his fine earlier in the week and the second with a winning double at Happy Valley that showed he has his eye on grabbing the third spot on the season's championship list.
On a night when squally, unpredictable weather had racing fans shying off going to the Happy Valley meeting and betting down by over $90 million, Purton scored a pair for Francis Lui Kin-wai on Tomodachi and Loads Of Joy in similar fashion, leading throughout in the boggy conditions.
During the afternoon, the jockey had indicated to club officials that he would be appealing the severity of a HK$300,000 fine imposed on him by the stewards on Tuesday over his failure to report two approaches for information in return for bets placed on his behalf by a punter who had been convicted in 2007 over a similar situation.
Then the Australian rider set about working on getting the fine money together just in case and Tomodachi, having his first run for the Lui stable, never looked like losing the third race.
The double took Purton past 50 wins for the season for the first time to 51, and he sits just two behind third-placed Darren Beadman, who will miss two of the final four meetings.
'I knew Tomodachi would handle the ground as I saw he had trialled well in New Zealand on a heavy track,' said Purton, who has been the regular rider of the horse even before his transfer to Lui.
'He's got good speed but I wasn't always able to use it before with wide gates and so on but he was always happy in front tonight from a good draw.'
Lui said he felt Tomodachi had limitations but was pleased to see him win so soon after the move.
'I wouldn't say he's a good horse, but he has only had seven races now and he has won so maybe there is some more room for improvement next season with more maturity,' Lui said. 'My other horse, Loads Of Joy, really appreciated the wet tonight. He has only ever won on the dirt before but on the dirt in the morning he has even been jarring a little bit lately. Tonight, Zac summed up the pace well, Loads Of Joy travelled comfortably and was able to just hang on.'
Whatever mild interest there was in the trainers' championship was probably snuffed out in the wind and rain, with championship leader Tony Cruz adding one more to his tally with Eternal Beauty (Matthew Chadwick) and his only rivals John Moore and John Size scoreless.
That left Cruz seven in front of Moore with Size a further three astern with just 40 races still to be decided for the term.
Eternal Beauty, once a pure speed horse a year ago, sat behind a hot pace last night and ran over the top of Million Darling in the final stages to take the Bravo Handicap, 1,000m.
'It wasn't that he was ever that fast,' said Chadwick.
'But when he was in Class Four, he looked quick because he was quicker than the others in that class.
'He hasn't looked as fast in Class Three so he came from behind tonight and that's three wins for the season. He's done his job now and he might find Class Two tough.'
Caspar Fownes didn't failed to line up for his regulation Valley winner, also a recent stable change in Moon Chaser, who gave Fownes' apprentice Vincent Ho Chak-yiu his second win for the night and helped him to the Jockey Challenge honours.