Zac Purton believes Sunday’s meeting at Sha Tin will play a pivotal role in deciding the jockeys’ championship.
Purton and Joao Moreira are locked in an enthralling battle for the title and the mind games escalated earlier this week when the Magic Man declared “I don’t think it’s a fight, Zac is going past me”.
Two wins each on Wednesday night kept Moreira’s lead at two, but the Brazilian looks to have the better hand on Sunday with eight favourites in early betting while his other ride was third pick.
Given that, Purton scoffs at the suggestion Moreira has fallen out of favour with trainers and is hoping his rival doesn’t have a big day.
“I’m not going to stand here and play the violin like Joao did, saying that he’s got no support. He’s clearly got support,” Purton said.
“I think this weekend is a big weekend and that could probably decide the title race. If he is to go and have a big day it is going to make it hard for me and he’s got the book of rides to be able to do that.
“He wants to cry me a river and say he’s got a suspension coming up but he forgets I spent half of April out suspended myself and went from five winners behind to 15 behind. It hasn’t been easy for me, I’ve had to claw my way back.
“I just hope from this point on I don’t want to see Joao get suspended again, I obviously don’t want to get suspended myself, I just want it to be a good, hard, strong battle – I think everyone wants to see that and hopefully we can take it to the wire.”
While the Moreira holds the aces on Sunday, Purton still boasts some strong chances including Caspar Fownes’ talented sprinter Montreal and intriguing debutants Bellagio and Beauty Loyal.
But perhaps his best hope in the David Hall-trained Seventy Seventy, who contests the Class Four HKU Foundations and HKU Faculty of Medicine Handicap (1,200m) after finishing third last start.
“I thought his run at Happy Valley was a really good run,” Purton said.
“He’s obviously got an engine, he’s got the ability but mentally he is very fragile and he just doesn’t know how to apply himself 100 per cent at the moment but if he is to put it together, he is obviously good enough.”