Purton, Shum salute fallen Little Bridge
Leading jockey and trainer take turns to praise the 2012 King's Stand Stakes winner, who died in Australia after a severe colic attack
In the wake of retired sprinter Little Bridge's death due to colic during the week in Australia, the horse's trainer Danny Shum and jockey Zac Purton expressed sadness at the loss of their "favourite horse".
Little Bridge won 10 from 22, his final victory an upset in the 2012 Group One King's Stand Stakes in England - delivering both Shum and Purton their biggest wins to date.
The seven-year-old was then retired early last season with a tendon injury following two unsuccessful runs after his Royal Ascot heroics, and was sent to Living Legends farm in Victoria, where champion Hong Kong sprinter Silent Witness also resides.
Little Bridge suffered one bout of colic shortly after arriving at the farm in December last year, after which he was successfully operated on and had fully recovered, but passed away after a more severe attack on Wednesday.
"He was my horse - I rode him in trackwork every day, I really loved him. He was a beautiful animal," Shum said on Sunday at Sha Tin.
"It is a pity and very sad, but I know he was well taken care of by the people there and they did their best to help him."
Purton's success on Little Bridge was instrumental in a breakout season for the Australian, and he hadn't forgotten the contribution his "mate" had made to his own career.
The jockey even visited Little Bridge at the Beas River spelling facility before the horse's departure for New Zealand.
"He was my favourite, so I'm pretty upset," Purton said.
"He was still quite a young horse, and gave me my biggest moment in racing."
Living Legends issued a press release expressing their condolences to owner Ko Kam-piu and acknowledging the work of Flemington Equine Practice, Melbourne University Equine Centre at Werribee and Pine Lodge Stables.
Purton was able to maintain his 10-win buffer to second-placed Joao Moreira at the top of the Jockeys' Championship with a win on Dennis Yip Chor-hong's first-starter Generous Bobo, a three-year-old that hadn't looked suited to straight track racing in his trials.
"He is still immature and he certainly wants more ground, which was evident today," Purton said.
"He was beaten for a bit of toe and did his best work late.
"Dennis was more comfortable over 1,000m - he has been very patient with him and given him some time and could have ran him before now but waited a bit longer. "He only just got there today and had he been rushed into a race too soon, he probably couldn't be able to win."
Vincent Ho Chak-yiu was suspended in the Clarke Quay Handicap for shifting ground late on Xi Ying Men, receiving a three-day ban and fined $20,000 in lieu of another day.