Leading jockey Zac Purton went within a whisker of taking Hong Kong’s biggest race, the HK$25 million Longines Hong Kong Cup, last year and believes seven-year-old Military Attack is in the right shape for some redemption at his fourth attempt on the race.
The horse’s then trainer John Moore was critical of Purton when Military Attack was fourth as favourite in the Cup in 2013, and last year it was just a cigarette paper width that separated Military Attack from victory behind Designs On Rome, but many had him written off as having missed his chance.
Most of this year for the seven-year-old gelding has been a trial of patience and vet science for trainer Caspar Fownes as he strived just to keep Military Attack going at times.
After winning the Jockey Club Cup, Fownes said Military Attack’s feet had been a problem, more recently he has had issues with his joints, and he spends more time on ice than a lead character in Breaking Bad.
But Purton, who has ridden the gelding in 14 races for five wins and eight top four finishes, as well as many gallops, says the old gelding is in a good place right now.
“Even though he won last time, I’m sure he can improve on that performance, and he does need to in this harder race,” Purton said.
“But now is the first time in a long time that he feels good and healthy. His feet are feeling 100 per cent and he’s got nice shoes on him and his work has been good.”
A pole position at the barrier draw did nothing to dim his enthusiasm this week, a contrast with his barriers nine and eight in those last two Hong Kong Cup defeats, or gate 11 when fifth in 2012.
“It’s always in the back of your mind that he’s not getting any younger but he’s one of those horses who turns up for big events,” Purton said.
“Even when he has had niggling issues, he has still come out and run well, and just now Caspar seems to be holding the issues at bay. Gate one is a plus and I think Military Attack still has what it takes.”