The question in Saturday’s Jockey Challenge isn’t so much who the most likely winner is, but rather how to extract maximum value from backing Zac Purton on a day when the Australian seems to have the strongest book of rides.
While Hong Kong Jockey Club oddsmakers obviously disagree with that assessment, rating Joao Moreira ($1.80) a slight favourite over Purton ($1.90) in early betting, the championship leader has the edge.
Perhaps those odds are, in part, based on the fact Moreira has a full book of 10 rides to Purton’s nine, but a case can be made for quality over quantity.
Purton starts and ends the day with horses that could start odds-on favourites and has a host of terrific chances in between.
Goko is chasing back-to-back wins in the opening race, returning to his successful course and distance for the Class Four Chai Wan Road Handicap (1,000m).
A quick start to the day would shorten Purton’s odds considerably, making his opening quote all the more enticing.
Purton seems to have a slight edge in the second race as well, with Sky Treasure contesting the Class Five Ho Sheung Heung Road Handicap (1,200m).
If there is a weak section for Purton, it is the middle part of the card where Moreira can make up ground.
Late in the meeting, Purton has a clear edge though, with three straight favourites to close the day.
Purton climbs back aboard Simply Brilliant, a horse he has won twice on this season and was an honest fourth last time out.
With the rail out in the C + 3 position, the son of Frankel has drawn barrier three in the Class Two Lung Mun Road Handicap (1,600m).
A recent trial suggested Simply Brilliant is standing up to the rigours of racing in his first season with Frankie Lor Fu-chuen.
Lor’s Glorious Forever certainly isn’t as proven as his stablemate, but his last start effort when ridden along in front had merit.
Tommy Berry’s “catch me if you can” tactics nearly paid off and it was only a driving run and late dive from Consort that denied the import victory.
It was another five lengths to third and Glorious Forever returns to the same course and distance against similar company in the Class Three Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Handicap (1,800m).
Sacred Ibis looks hard to beat and the improving four-year-old has been well found in early betting for the Class Three Pok Fu Lam Country Park Handicap (1,400m).
Moreira obviously has a solid book of rides as well, and the Jockey Challenge looks a race in two.
A remarkable market on Friday night had the leading jockeys both odds-on and Chad Schofield rated the next best chance at $28.