It might be the end of the season tonight but the top jockeys are already setting the stage for the next one, with Zac Purton standing by his comments in a Sydney newspaper about Douglas Whyte.
"Game on. I stand by everything and I can't wait for next season," Purton said. "Now that I'm over the kidney problems, I feel fantastic, the best I've felt in months and I'm dying to get back and do this all again."
After Sha Tin on Sunday, Whyte accepted the trophy for his 13th successive championship win after a season-long battle with Purton, then told the Post that his motivation and "the turning point was when Zac got a bit up himself and threw out a few chirps" and said "actions speak louder than words".
Purton's response came through a Daily Telegraph story yesterday, hitting back at the South African and pulling no punches.
"It's easy to win races in your own backyard [like Whyte] when the odds are stacked in your favour. I'm putting him on notice: now that he's shot his mouth off, it's motivated me to take him down in the new season," Purton said. "Without his good mate John Size, his championship run would have ended years ago."
Purton said he had achieved his primary goal this year, to be a serious player in the major races, collecting eight Group races, four of them Group Ones, including the Longines Hong Kong Mile and Singapore International Airlines Cup. He also won the World Super Jockey series in Japan in November.
"The real test of a man's mettle is on the world stage, and I've been highly successful whenever I've travelled," said Purton, who also won on Little Bridge at Royal Ascot just over 12 months ago.
Whyte has ridden 100 winners this season and Purton 87, with both having rides in all nine races at Happy Valley tonight.