A day after adding another Group One to his long list of wins, Zac Purton achieved something at Sha Tin that had until yesterday proved impossible – he managed to cross the line first on perennial bridesmaids Victory Magic and Molly’s Jade Star.
Between them, the pair had recorded 11 second placings this season – in different classes – but it was a case of right place, right time for the Australian rider.
“It’s the nature of Hong Kong racing – every horse has its race, it is just about finding the right spot and for us, getting on them at the right time,” Purton said.
For John Moore-trained Victory Magic, it had been a long time coming, the horse performing admirably all season including a dogged second to stablemate Werther in the BMW Hong Kong Derby last start.
He had arrived from Australia a maiden, although he does now have a win next to his name due to disqualification, and had yet to find the winner’s circle in Hong Kong. So yesterday was the first time he was first past the post as he stormed clear in the 2,200m Class Two – something the four-year-old still struggled with, according to Purton, despite the two and three-quarter length margin.
“When he burst to the front, he did get a little bit lost, he was a little lonely,” he said. “But he had the momentum up and he was able to carry himself better to the line this time. I think he’s still immature and what we are seeing now is a bonus – in 12 months or so, I think we are going to see a genuine Group One horse.”
And while the son of Savabeel shaped like a horse that will relish the step up to 2,400m in the Group Three Queen Mother Memorial Cup on April 24, Purton was more cautious.
“They didn’t go that fast today and he did get on the bit a couple of times, he was keen to go,” he said. “I’m sure in a more truly run race, he’s going to relax better and he’s going to produce the same turn of foot. So I don’t think the trip is going to be a problem, but you never quite know until you give them a chance. He was disappointing in the Victoria Derby over 2,500m, but he may have been at the end of his preparation so it’s hard to convict him on that.”
Moore said the horse came well educated from original handlers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young, with the trainer’s son George buying Victory Magic from the Kiwi duo, but he revealed that attempts to buy the latest staying star from the training team – last weekend’s Australian Derby winner Tavago – amounted to nothing.
“As soon as he crossed the line, we were on the phone trying to buy him but he’s definitely not for sale,” John Moore said. “Tommy Berry, who rode Tavago yesterday, also said he would be a bit stout for Hong Kong, but he looks a nice horse.”
It was the second leg of an unlikely double for Purton after he had earlier won on Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s Molly’s Jade Star, a horse that was once described as the “best maiden in Hong Kong”.
“Molly’s Jade Star had obviously been going close but there was no fluke about his win today,” Purton said. “He did it the tough way, he had to do a little bit of work mid-race so I cuddled him as long as I could and luckily I did because he didn’t have a lot left – he was running on empty at the line.”
“Still, with a light weight in Class Three, he’ll be hard to beat I’m sure.”