Just when some were calling the jockeys' championship all over, not least Zac Purton himself, the Australian again closed the gap on leader Douglas Whyte to five wins with 13 meetings remaining.

Purton's three wins to Whyte's one breathed new life into the title chase, especially given the 12-time defending champion will miss three consecutive meetings early next month. Whyte will be away to ride Glorious Days in the Yasuda Kinen next Sunday and misses the following two meetings through a deferred suspension.

It is getting harder now getting up with the big boys
ZAC Purton on why not

Why Not, My Favorite and Mr Gnocci delivered Purton a treble and 80 wins for the season so far, continuing to set a new benchmark for himself - up from his previous best of 63 last season.

The competition continues to get hotter for Why Not and he again stood up with his fourth win in five starts - over what is becoming his pet course and distance of 1,600m.

"He was solid, but he has been great all season," Purton said. "It is getting harder now getting up with the big boys. He found himself in a good spot today, trucked into it and then laboured a bit when in front. I think he was looking for a playmate. Luckily the post came in time but he's always been like that, he just seems to win."

Mr Gnocchi's win, his second straight, was trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing's 300th career victory, and was from another three-year-old Purton was declaring would be "better next season".

"He had to carry some weight this time at the top of Class Four," he said. "He will need to step up a notch to be competitive in Class Three. I'm sure he will be competitive down in the weights there, but he's not the finished product yet."

"It was good to get the 300th win for Danny because he's been a good supporter of mine."