Zac Purton proves a point with Sacred success in Sydney
Hong Kong championship leader Zac Purton made a rare return trip to Australia on Saturday to claim the world's richest turf mile, the A$3 million (HK$21.8 million) Doncaster Mile, on Sacred Falls.
One of five runners for Sydney's top trainer Chris Waller, who claimed the first four finishing positions in the Group One race, Sacred Falls produced a carbon copy of his win for Tommy Berry a year ago, scything through the field from near the tail and relishing the heavy going.
Jockeys based in Hong Kong have a worthwhile strike rate when they make special trips overseas to contest Group Ones, but Purton said his opportunities had been few and far between, despite his success here.
Although he claimed the 2008 Epsom Handicap and has ridden in a Melbourne Cup since shifting from Sydney to Hong Kong in 2007, Purton said he was generally overlooked for big-race mounts in his homeland when the major carnivals roll around, despite Group One successes in Hong Kong, at Royal Ascot and in Singapore, as well as a win in the prestigious Super Jockey series in Japan.
"For some reason, people at home sort of forget about me a little bit," Purton said. "I know I wasn't that well established before I left, so probably that's why.
"But I seem to be getting the job done all around the world and get left out at home. To get this opportunity and get the job done, it's very satisfying."
The win gave Purton the distinction of having won the richest mile race on turf last season - when that race was the Hong Kong Mile won by Ambitious Dragon - and the richest turf mile in the world currently.
The Australian was unplaced on outsider Surge Ahead in the ATC Australian Derby in his other ride yesterday, while his arch rival in Hong Kong, Joao Moreira, was unplaced on a handful of mounts on the first day of Sydney's new "The Championships" meeting.