Champion jockey Zac Purton gets a rare opportunity to enter the closed shop of John Size-trained horses at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
Size’s stable jockey Joao Moreira will miss his first meeting since returning to Hong Kong in December after stewards suspended him for a total of six meetings from three different incidents, meaning Purton will ride promising type Champion’s Way and also Har Har Heart.
Champion’s Way impressed on debut last month, racing greenly but still saluting with a fast-finishing run.
With the handicapper only penalising the three-year-old eight points, he gets his opportunity in Class Four grade again in the Volunteers’ Challenge Cup (1,200m).
“He’s like a lot of John’s horses, they just keep improving as they go along,” Purton said. “His trials were nothing flash but I suppose he didn’t do anything flash on race day either, but he got the job done.
“He seemed to get a little bit lost around there but he was still able to win so that’s a good sign.”
Size and Purton have teamed up just eight times at Happy Valley this season, but it has returned five victories.
While Moreira has rocketed up the jockeys’ championship table since his arrival in December, landing 41 winners, Purton has managed to keep pace with the Brazilian despite missing three meetings through suspension.
In that time Purton has ridden 35 winners from 154 starts at a strike rate of 22.7 per cent while Moreira has 41 winners in 187 starts at 21.9 per cent.
“The opportunity is there and [Size] has given me some rides, so it’s nice,” Purton said. “I think the gap is very similar to what it was when he first came. I have missed meetings with suspensions in that time and he’s served none.”
Meanwhile, Silvestre de Sousa is looking to continue his “dream” stint in Hong Kong after securing a one-month extension to his riding contract.
Originally slated to return to England at the end of February, De Sousa will now ride until the end of March as he looks to build on his 33 winners to date.
“It has been a dream come true, I managed to get a Group One winner under the belt as well. I am very pleased with all of the support, I couldn’t do it without it,” he said.
De Sousa said he has set a target of 40 winners before he leaves and he is hoping to be one closer to that mark after he partners All You Know in the Class Three Tsuen Wan Handicap (1,650m) on Wednesday night.
De Sousa rode the horse to a third placing in the International Jockeys’ Championship in December but missed his last start through suspension.
“It was a fantastic run then and then he ran a good second, he finished off very strong, he will be a big player in the race,” he said.
“He is a bit tricky, he doesn’t do things very straightforward, I hope to get better luck this time and things go his way.”