Whyte up where he belongs - on top
Durban Demon goes past Purton in the jockeys' championship, but Aussie scores big in Tokyo by winning World Super Jockey Series
So often it has been a meeting that saw Douglas Whyte absent and giving a free kick to his major jockeys' championship rivals, but the Durban Demon was home at Sha Tin landing a treble, while Australian Zac Purton was in seventh heaven becoming the first Hong Kong-based winner of the World Super Jockey Series in Japan.
Purton added the title in Tokyo as another 2012 highlight along with his King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot on Little Bridge and his pending marriage later this week to long-time partner Nicole Cassidy.
While Purton may have missed winners at Sha Tin in Garlic Boy and Able Magic, the Super Jockey Series was not only prestigious but lucrative, with his two winners in the four-race series earning almost HK$3 million stake money and his prize money and trophy for emerging victorious in the Jockey Series series was worth around HK$300,000 alone.
Purton gave a brilliant display to win the opening leg, then suffering interference in the second of the races on Saturday. A fifth in the third leg put him in the picture with a race to run and he won the final leg by a neck on Satono Panther to claim the title ahead of Japanese rider, Suguru Hamanaka, and 2010 winner, Britain's Ryan Moore.
"It was great to be invited and obviously even better to win it and a terrific experience to be here on Japan Cup day. They really looked after us and I was lucky enough to get on some good horses," said Purton last night.
Meanwhile at home, any claim Purton might have thrown out with his brilliant early form this season to taking Whyte's crown, suffered a blow as the South African landed the opening race for Paul O'Sullivan on first starter Disciples Twelve and added the John Size-trained Holyangelholy and Happy Era later in the day.
He made a one-act affair of the Jockey Challenge for the card, and went three wins clear at the head of the jockeys' table.
The first of his wins for Size came as redemption on Holyangelholy, which had run as favourite under Whyte his first four starts without winning, then broke through for Tye Angland after being checked at the start earlier this month.
"I think with the wet weather and a good pace, the field spread out a little bit and that helped Holyangelholy with how he reacted to other horses, but more than that, he has digested that last win and gained some confidence and is enjoying his racing more," Whyte said.
"We know now that you just have to let him find his feet the first half of the race and he'll give you good turn of foot in the second half. And I think now's the time that you can take him back up to 1,400m because he is learning to race with better manners and you can ride a race on him now."
Size agreed that an increase in distance was virtually a certainty for the son of Darci Brahma, now that he has won his way out of Class Four. "I think the 1,200m races will just be too quick for him going up to the next grade," he said. "He did have plenty of weight today but it took him a long time to win and he'll need long to compete in Class Three."