Zac Purton

Zac Purton snares four-timer to slash winless Joao Moreira’s jockeys’ championship lead

The Australian star combines with Caspar Fownes for a treble, with big things ahead for Rise High

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 May, 2018, 8:41pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 May, 2018, 11:14pm

Zac Purton added more spice to the race for the jockeys’ championship with a four-timer at Sha Tin on Sunday, teaming up with Caspar Fownes for a treble that included wins by two very promising types.

Purton’s haul brings him within four of Joao Moreira, who went winless, and leaves the Australian in a strong position with his main rival set to miss the meetings on June 6 and 10 through suspension.

“It puts me in a good position now and we’ll just see what happens. It’s funny, I’ve had four winners and I feel like I’ve had an ordinary day,” said Purton, whose haul could have been even bigger after he missed out on favourites Absolucool, Goodluck Goodluck and Handsome Bo Bo.

“It’s hard to explain. Obviously things started well, went sideways midway through the day and it was good to finish it off with another winner.”

Purton and Fownes were on the board early when Play It saluted in the first and combined again with Montreal in race five and Rise High in the last race, with the latter most exciting Fownes.

“He’s a nice horse, bigger and better things for this horse down the road. He’s going to be a pretty smart horse for next season,” Fownes said.

Purton also booted home Solar Patch for John Moore and he is set to push the Magic Man all the way in the race for the title.

“Zac is going good, he’s making it exciting. Like anything in this game, it’s all about momentum. Once you start to get on that wave you can make some good things happen,” Fownes said.

“I support both of them, Zac has been doing a lot more riding for me recently but the rides are there for both jockeys, so whoever wants them can get them.”

Rise High had to overcome contact in the straight, but he straightened nicely to edge Doctor Geoff by a neck.

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“It was a good effort from my horse to pick up and win that race because when Doctor Geoff came out and bumped Coby Boy onto me, it really put my horse off balance,” Purton said.

“I thought at that time he was labouring a bit after that, but the last 75m he showed a bit of ticker to attack the line.”

In just his second start in Hong Kong, Montreal controlled the Class Three Lapis Lazuli Handicap (1,000m) down the straight and kicked beautifully when called upon by Purton, seeing off Wayfoong Vinnie by two-and-a-quarter lengths for his first win in the territory.

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“He’s definitely a triple-figure horse, no doubt,” Fownes said of his charge, who entered the race with a rating of 76.

“I expected a big improvement from his first run to his second run, he’s a big horse. I’m treating him like he’s a real nice horse, it looks that way now and if we can go around the turn with him in a nice 1,200m it will be even better for him.

“We will see how he pulls up and sort of every two to three weeks find a race for him. It’s hard to say [how far he will go], the 1,000m down the Sha Tin straight is always a testing race.

“We’ve had a lot of horses in the past that you can take to [1,400m] and they still perform well. But at this stage he’ll just either stay down the straight or go into a 1,200m around the turn.”

Montreal started his career in Australia under the tutelage of Gai Waterhouse and had some heart issues before moving to Hong Kong, but Fownes is hopeful those troubles are behind him.

“At this stage if he can stay sound – he came in with quite a few issues – that is the main thing, we have given him the best prep possible to have a future here,” he said.