Like quite a few at Sha Tin, top jockey Zac Purton was showing the after effects of influenza but it didn’t stop him getting straight back amongst the winners after an enforced break.

Purton was one of a long list of jockeys resuming from suspension on the day and only had to wait for his fourth mount to score a win for Caspar Fownes on Popping Candy before adding an overdue win for Benno Yung Tin-pang-trained Universal Union 90 minutes later.

“Getting over the ‘flu didn’t make it easier having to lose a few pounds after Christmas but I’m OK and I have a few days more now until New Year’s Day to get rid of it,” Purton said.

His record might not read like it with only one win but he’s very honest
Zac Purton on Universal Union

Purton is the only rider to have won on Universal Union, scoring with the quirky gelding in October last year, and he has only ridden him three times since.

“He deserved a win. His record might not read like it with only one win but he’s very honest. He’s been racing well in Class Two but without luck and isn’t a horse who helps himself to get much luck – when things go wrong, he’s in trouble,” Purton said. “So the drop back to Class Three helped him today but more importantly he got a race run to suit with a bit of speed on.”

The opposite was the case for Popping Candy, another honest trier, who relished having the speed to himself inside odds-on favourite Honest Horse.

“It was a very shallow race, there was only one horse to beat really,” Purton said. “The other night at Happy Valley on the wet track I thought he ran well and actually liked the cut in the ground but the horse that beat him, Lucky Year, is just a bit too good for him. Coming back to Sha Tin was a plus and he got a soft lead and gave me a good kick.”

A deceptive bob of heads denied Purton a third win as Triumphant Jewel appeared to have Diamond Dragon’s measure in race nine everywhere but on the finish photo.