Moment to savour for cool Purton
Zac Purton admits he was feeling the pressure early in the Happy Valley Trophy (1,200m), but after an ice-cool effort to recover and win on At Moment In Time, he was getting plenty of plaudits from victorious trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing.
The Australian jockey joked: 'I could feel Danny Shum's hands around my neck,' after he missed the kick on the sprinter and found himself trailing the Class One field.
But Purton held his nerve and charted a rails-run passage to ring up a double and help continue Shum's stellar start to the season.
'He just bounded in the air at the start and after he went 50m I thought 'there's no use digging him,' because he can over-race,' Purton said.
'So I thought I would switch him off and ride him where he was - but I could feel Danny Shum's hands around my neck after 200m.'
With a strong tempo, the missed start probably benefitted Shum's six-year-old, whose three previous wins had come over 1,000m and was tackling the trip for the second time.
Let Me Fight loomed like he would win, but again failed to finish off, allowing Purton to pounce after he had stalked John Moore's horse from the turn.
Shum, who now has 18 wins this term, had faith his horse would get the extra distance.
'He had only raced once over 1,200m and didn't prove he couldn't handle it,' he said. 'I didn't have many options than to come to this race, so I gave him more slow work, so he could handle the extra 200m.
'It wasn't the plan to end up there in the run - but Zac is a very good jockey and he knew that if he pushed to go forward the horse wouldn't handle it.'
Purton's other win was for Dennis Yip Chor-hung on Groovy, who disposed of a extended bracket (85-60) Class Three with relative ease, his second straight win.
Yip credited Purton with teaching the gelding to settle after he had been plagued with problems missing the start and ungenerous racing manners.
Groovy stepped perfectly from gate three, Purton positioned him in a nice one-off sit in the run and he pulled away to win by ?of a length.
'I've had two rides on him and we've drawn plum barriers both times and it's been a big help because he is a difficult horse to ride,' Purton said.
'He has jumped well both times and I've been able to relax on him. He's had races run to suit, but he has gone on with it.'
Gerald Mosse shared riding honours on the night with a double on Supreme Genki and Mr Bond, who endured a horrid three-wide trip and still managed to score in a Class Three.
Mr Bond's trainer, Peter Ho Leung, said his horse was 'tough ... he got used up all through the race' while Supreme Genki's handler Tony Cruz said his raw three-year-old would be back for another crack at Happy Valley after breaking his maiden in a Class Four.
Trainer Derek Cruz was left in awe when eight-year-old Nordic Star (Douglas Whyte) continued his career-best form in a Class Three (1,650m).
'His form has held up all season,' Cruz said. 'He got back like usual and I think the speed was pretty genuine and that helped, he tries very hard and is very honest.'
Studying the European form of Make It paid off for trainer Andy Leung Ting-wah, as he grabbed back-to-back wins on a seven day back-up with the five-year-old.
Leung noted that the gelding's last two starts in Ireland, both wins, were within three days so decided to roll the dice into another Class Four after a win last week.
As Whyte got stuck three deep on race favourite Glory Horsie, Derek Leung Ka-chun got all the favours on the winner and gunned down Flashing Stride on the line. Apprentice Alvin Ng Ka-chun missed the meeting due to the flu and Matthew Chadwick did not fulfil his commitments after race one because of an injured wrist.