Zac Purton rides a treble, while Joao Moreira may miss big races with ban
Australian steals the limelight, while Brazilian star is hit with fresh riding ban
There were plenty of positives in Zac Purton's treble at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, but for his emerging rival Joao Moreira it was mostly negatives with a careless riding suspension meaning the Magic Man is likely to miss the upcoming big race days.
Moreira won the seventh race on Ensemble to add to his own win tally, but that was little consolation after he was charged with careless riding on Turbo Jewellery in race six, earning a three-day ban with massive ramifications.
The Brazilian already had another three-day suspension to serve, starting after this Sunday's Sha Tin meeting, and the new ban means he will miss the International Jockeys' Championships (December 4) and the Hong Kong International Races (December 8) unless he can successfully appeal the charge.
Purton continued his early season charge and although his title aspirations might be hamstrung by limited support from the big name trainers, he put his potpourri of stable support to good use and extended his jockeys' championship lead with a big night.
Purton gets minimal opportunities for the big three of John Size, John Moore and Tony Cruz, but wins for three different trainers usually stationed mid-table took Purton to 29 victories for the season and 12 clear at the top of the table.
"He is riding beautifully," Manfred Man Ka-leung said after Super Brother went back-to-back in Class Five, benefiting from Purton's hot hand as the in-form rider found the box seat from gate 10 with an aggressive ride. "What instructions can you give a jockey when he draws barrier 10? I just leave it with him." In the last, Purton showed similar aggressive tactics on Peter Ho Leung's inexperienced import Yee Cheong Star to lead from gate 12, and then had his hands full getting the four-year-old to come back to him during the run.
"The horse really was overracing, but he was lucky he got a break down the back straight and Zac allowed the horse to get a second breath," Ho said.
"That was a better win than it looked," Purton added. "He doesn't help you out much at this stage. It was only his fourth start here and he is always thinking about what is going on. Mentally he has got a lot of development to come, so there is scope for improvement."
Purton gave Chris So Wai-yin the second leg of a double and the freshman trainer eight wins for the term when Lucky Forever box-seated and scored in a driving finish.
Earlier, Tye Angland gave So his first winner of the night when he produced a perfect ride from gate nine on Sight Lover - a horse that has continually drawn bad barriers. "He has drawn 12 three times in a row, so nine didn't seem too bad," So said after his four-year-old sat outside the lead and toughed it out.
Angland warned that if the horse ever did draw a good gate, he would improve dramatically.
"He races better with cover, and we wanted to get cover tonight, but he just jumped so well that we ended up where we did," he said.
Keith Yeung Ming-lun seems assured of a place in the International Jockeys' Championship as leading local after he won on back-to-back Class Five winner China Delight for Francis Lui Kin-wai. Yeung has 11 victories and a four-win lead on Matthew Chadwick as leading local rider with just 19 races remaining before the line-up for the IJC is completed.
John Size-trained Ensemble continued to build an impressive record with his fourth win from nine starts, and three in a row, but now with a rating in the 90s the only concern for the trainer is how to place the 1,000m specialist. "He has brilliant gate speed and that has taken him a long way," Size said. "We've been lucky to find three straight 1,000m races, but they don't come along very often. When they win, it's a good sign and they usually have more to offer."