Australian jockey Zac Purton made the most of Douglas Whyte's absence through suspension to land a dashing three-timer at Happy Valley last night and slash in half the margin by which he trails the South African.
Paul O'Sullivan-trained Able Magic put him on the board early, but the real fireworks had to wait until late in the piece, when Purton gave perfect displays to land a double for Dennis Yip Chor-hong with Simple and Real Generous.
With racing against the rail seemingly an advantage on the night, Simple was the ride of the night, crossing over behind the speed from barrier 11 to find the fence early; Purton kept stealing bases before the home turn, then unleashed the grey sprinter's withering burst.
"That was a great ride. I think that's the way the horse races best but in a way it helped that he drew a bad barrier because we really didn't have a choice how to ride him," said Yip. "He had to go back, and with the very strong pace that really suited him. And I think the first time he had blinkers on two runs ago, he was a bit keener ... the second time, he was more used to them."
If Purton made Simple look simple, then it was up to Real Generous to live up to his name too.
"He was Real Generous tonight, he really helped me out in the run. He began, put himself there and that was a plus the way the track was playing," said Purton. "He had a perfect run but really put them away at the finish."
The treble left him three wins behind Whyte, who serves one more meeting sidelined, and gave Purton the Jockey Challenge for the night, breaking the hearts of Vincent Ho Chak-yiu supporters.
Ho had been 40-1 before racing began but, after a quickfire double in the first two races on Fortune Territory for Danny Shum Chap-shing and Prolific Champion for Tony Cruz, his price tumbled to odds-on.
It was not to be but his win on Fortune territory in the Class Five was significant all the same as it wa his first for Shum, albeit from just 14 previous rides for the yard.
"The horse is very limited and I might talk to the owner about what he wants to do now. I think winning again might be difficult but Vincent did a good job tonight," Shum said. "I asked him to make sure he warmed the horse up behind the gates and it was a big help - he jumped out quickly ... he has not been jumping the best before."
Richard Fourie has been chipping away with virtually a winner a meeting lately and kept it happening with eight-year-old Danzulu for Tony Millard in the fifth.
From barrier eight, Fourie was able to find a good spot in midfield on the rail and that paved the way to the win.
"Sure, he got lucky to find that position, but the fast pace helped him too," said Millard. "Everybody tried to lead and they just overdid it.
"It's nice to win with these old horses and this guy's won two this season and you have to be happy with that. You can't rely on him, he does a bit wrong, but things fell into place."
Most winners raced along the rail through their races before switching wider, but Tim Clark was able to break the mold in race six with Vital Gold for Richard Gibson.
The gelding was the only winner to come around the field and ran away for an impressive win at just his third local outing.