With blinkers on, stepping back in distance and Zac Purton aboard for the first time, Chris So Wai-yin has tried something different with Master Albert as the import attempts to break through in the Class Three Kap Shui Mun Handicap (1,000m).
Master Albert has been a costly conveyance for punters so far, beaten as favourite in five starts, all with Joao Moreira aboard and each time over 1,200m.
Now Purton gets his chance on the four-year-old and said the gear change “could be pivotal” as the laid-back gelding comes back in trip.
“It might keep him a little bit focused, he has got to the 200m mark in a few races and lost his determination. The blinkers and move back to 1,000m could encourage him to run through the line,” Purton said. “It was Chris’ decision, he just feels he has had plenty chances at 1,200m and he didn’t think stepping up to 1,400m was an option yet – that left 1,000m as an option, it’s another roll of the dice.”
What wasn’t part of So’s plan was drawing gate 11 of 12 in a highly competitive contest.
“The barrier is not ideal, it is hard to see where he will be in the run, hopefully we can get some cover and a pull into the race,” Purton said.
Purton gets a better barrier on Paul O’Sullivan’s Destin but said he doesn’t feel compelled to “use the gate” to try and race handy in the Class Four Tsing Lung Tau Handicap (1,650m).
“I don’t think he is a horse you can be too aggressive on,” Purton said of the four-year-old who flashed home late for third under Leandro Henrique in a leg of the International Jockeys’ Championship three weeks ago.
“Knowing Paul, he doesn’t try to do things differently just because you draw a better barrier. He hit the line well last start if he is finishing off like he did then he will be right in it this time.”
Purton is hoping to build on his solid record with first-year training sensation Frankie Lor Fu-chuen but will have his hands full with four-year-old The Champ in the Class Five Tsing Yi Handicap (1,200m)
The Australian jockey has won two and finished out of the placings just once in six rides for Lor, but is yet to benefit from the trainer’s outstanding Class Five record.
Lor has won 15 from 35 in Class Five, a strike rate of 43 per cent, and 60 per cent of his runners have hit the frame in the bottom grade.
Purton said the key for The Champ is not only getting a clean jump but having a few things go his way in the run as well.
“He is obviously a difficult horse to handle and very difficult in the gates,” he said. “I rode him in a jump-out last week and he was only in the gates for two seconds, I could feel he was very tense in there. He is a back-marker anyway and I think he might need more ground, so I just hope they go fast and that gives him more of a chance.”