Joao Moreira has won the Jockey Challenge eight of the last 10 meetings but if anyone can snap the Brazilian’s stranglehold it is Zac Purton – even if it takes him all day.
The final race at Sha Tin on Sunday showcases Hong Kong racing at his best; a well-handicapped contest with a number of chances, and it might just take until then to decide the Jockey Challenge.
Moreira’s mount Nothingilikemore will start favourite in the Tak Ku Ling Handicap on the strength of a dominant debut win but Friends Of Nanjing looms as perhaps the biggest threat.
Two starts back Friends Of Nanjing was beaten a short head into third behind Razor Quest and Booming Delight, before working home for second behind Booming Delight last start after enduring a tough run sitting three wide.
Now gate three should give Purton an opportunity to give Benno Yung Tin-pang’s four-year-old the right run back at 1,400m, even if it is in a highly competitive Class Three.
“He will still need some luck because he is going to be in the latter half of the field,” Purton said.
“Let’s hope there is some speed on, because if there is, and judging by the way he closed off his race last time, then he should be right in it.”
The pace doesn’t look to be overly fast on paper, although Jade Theatre and Club Life will sit on pace, and Regency Bo Bo should also be prominent.
A slow tempo won’t help Moreira’s cause either though, with Nothingilikemore likely to maintain the same hold-up pattern utilised first-up after drawing wide.
If Purton is to win the Jockey Challenge for the first time since January 8 it will take a few more upsets, not to mention a few of Moreira’s favourites to come unstuck during the day.
Purton will be out to cause one of those surprise results in the Hong Kong Classic Cup aboard Beauty Generation, with Moreira’s mount Rapper Dragon set to start a dominant favourite after his win in the first leg of the four-year-old series.
Beauty Generation was hitting the line well in third in the Classic Mile and unlike Rapper Dragon has proven form beyond a mile.
“The extra distance will suit him and he worked very nicely on Thursday, I think he is at his top and where he can give us his best,” Purton said. “It’s a competitive race, and a lot more open than a lot of people think, even if it looks as though Rapper Dragon has a mortgage on the race. I think there are a number of chances.”
Trainer John Moore and Purton considered taking blinkers off Beauty Generation after the Classic Mile but have opted for the headgear to stay on for Sunday.
“He got galloped on last time and we’ve given him the benefit of the doubt, that it may have upset him,” Purton said.