Hong Kong had just two representatives in the HK$2.5 million Macau Hong Kong Trophy on Saturday but still took out the return leg of the annual interport trophy series as jockey Zac Purton made Taipa his playground.
The Caspar Fownes-trained Marvel Hero went out favourite on the Macau tote with Joao Moreira in the saddle but Tony Cruz, who won the 2005 Macau Hong Kong Trophy with Helene Pillaging, was victorious.
Romantic Touch had not run since March when he finished a solid third to Invincible Dragon in the Sha Tin interport leg but his victory firmed up a growing partnership between Purton and Cruz recently.
Purton sent Romantic Touch forward in the early stages to have him in the first two throughout on the yielding track, then stole a break entering the final straight.
“I was very confident coming around the home turn. I thought there was only one horse to beat in the race, Marvel Hero, and I looked around at the 500m and he was being hard ridden so I thought I had him beaten,” said Purton after Romantic Touch held off the late finishes of local stars The Alfonso and Kelowna Prince to score by just under a length. Marvel Hero came in fifth of the seven runners.
Purton had already won the Group 3 Grand Lisboa Cup before the interport feature then, half an hour later, snared the HK$2.6 million Macau Derby for Joe Lau on 12-1 chance Sacred Man.
In a race marred by severe interference, when a runner broke down hopelessly early in the event, Purton was once again up at the front and out of trouble on Sacred Man, who was in the first two placings for most of the race. He took over the lead before turning for home and went clear to set up a big break on the field that the rest never looked like bridging and Sacred Man’s winning margin was eight and a half lengths on the line.
Purton only had five rides on the card and brought home the treble, including the two Group One features, while Joao Moreira and Neil Callan came home on the ferry empty handed.