Zac Purton returned from suspension to dominate the Happy Valley card and land his 800th Hong Kong winner in unusual circumstances.
Purton sat out the past two meetings over a suspension incurred in a trip to the Sydney carnival but he was back with a bang winning the opening Class Five on the David Ferraris-trained Raichu to become the fourth jockey ever to reach 800 wins.
What was unusual about that was Purton very rarely rides for Ferraris and Raichu was his third mount for the stable this season, only his seventh since 2014 and his first winner for Ferraris since October of that year.
In fact, Purton has now ridden just seven winners in all for Ferraris in more than decade of riding in Hong Kong.
“He’s a trainer I just don’t ride for much at all so you would never have expected my 800th winner to be for David,” said Purton, who did it in the trainer’s absence as Ferraris, who added Dr Race (Alberto Sanna) later for a double, is away in the United Kingdom on a horse-buying expedition.
“The last winner I rode for him, I remember David wasn’t there that time either so it’s a winning formula. Maybe he shouldn’t come back before the weekend because I’ve got another ride for him on Saturday.”
Purton added Savannah Wind in the second for Danny Shum Chap-shing – who also had a winning double – and Fast Most Furious for David Hall to rack up a treble that leaves him only a single win behind Brett Prebble, who is currently the third most successful jockey in Hong Kong by wins.
“The 800 is nice. It’s been a lot of hard work over a lot of years to get to that milestone but the story isn’t over – I’m looking forward to the next 800 wins now,” Purton said.
The Fast Most Furious win for Hall was more familiar territory on a horse Purton has ridden several times and a horse the trainer felt might not even make it to the races in Hong Kong at one stage.
“He was a typical Irish horse when he arrived – he was a big heavy horse, he couldn’t cope with the hard tracks at all and I thought he’d be lucky to race,” Hall recalled. “But he worked through that and came solid and when we finally got him to the races he’s had nothing but bad luck and trouble in his runs. It’s nice to get the first win out of him and to do it over 1,200m is encouraging because he really should run further.”
Encore Boy (Karis Teetan) was another breakthrough winner, scoring over 1,200m after he had been getting beaten over 1,000m recently but it wasn’t about the distance.
“A good barrier really helps. He’s had double digit draws every time lately,” trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai said. “I wasn’t worried about the extra distance, just about him being able to relax in the race for a change. He was able to take a sit behind, and I told Karis to bring him through on the fence. He was lucky to get the ride actually – he rang me one minute before Joao Moreira. Had he called a minute later the ride would have been gone.”
Peter Ho Leung wrapped up the night with Don’t Miss (Matthew Poon Ming-fai) winning his third 1,650m for the season but this time in Class Three.
“After he won the two races in Class Four, his rating went up quickly and from 43 to 61, it was really rising too fast for him,” Ho said. “Now that he has had a couple of races in Class Three to get used to the different pace, he was ready to adapt to it tonight.”