Zac Purton’s cracking form took a chill pill at Sha Tin after a week to remember, but he still landed the victory he needed to take his career tally in Hong Kong to a significant milestone.
Purton described the Dennis Yip Chor-hong-trained Chung Wah Spirit as a work in progress after winning the 18 Districts Cup, his 10th winner in eight days after five last weekend, one at Happy Valley on Wednesday and three at Taipa on Saturday, including two Group Ones and a Group Three.
The victory also brought up win number 700 in Hong Kong for Purton, a week after the Australian moved to fourth behind only Douglas Whyte (1,757 wins), Tony Cruz (946) and Brett Prebble (872) on the all-time wins list.
“It’s a long way from riding 29 winners the first season, when I didn’t know anyone and struggled to get a lot of support at the weight I was riding,” Purton recalled.
“There’s been a lot of hard work over a lot of years in those 700 wins so it’s a nice milestone to reach but I’ve a long way still to go. I’ll never catch Douglas’ numbers but I might give Brett a shake in the next season or two.”
Chung Wah Spirit is a three-year-old and still a colt and Purton said both of those facts were likely to change in the coming summer break.
“He’s been timid in his races, he hasn’t been jumping well and, even in the mornings at trackwork, you can feel he just isn’t the finished article,” Purton said. “He needs gelding, which will probably happen in the off-season, but there is a good engine there. You’ll see a better horse when he returns for next season, he just needs to mature.”
Nevertheless, Purton had gone to Sha Tin confident of his prospects on Chung Wah Spirit with a set of blinkers added to his gear.
“He had a jump out in the blinkers recently and he flew out of the gates and it really switched him on,” he explained. “After that, I was confident we’d see his best run in them today and that’s what he produced.”