Champion jockey Zac Purton says he will be disappointed if he does not better his career-best season after securing back-to-back jockeys’ championships.
The Australian set his personal best of 136 last season after going toe-to-toe with Joao Moreira until the last day of the term but has enjoyed life at the top alone this year, however he is still striving to grow his 118-win tally.
With about 154 races remaining in the season, Purton is on target to ride another 34 winners at his current strike rate of 22 per cent, placing him at 152 after the final meeting.
“I am just aiming to try and ride as many winners as I can,” Purton said bluntly. “In the position I am in now, I suppose I would be a little bit disappointed if I didn’t get to that mark again, I am hoping to better that.”
As the dominant jockey, Purton has played his cards well this season to avoid having horses that he rides regularly clashing in the same race.
As a result, the 36-year-old has been able to ride many horses at the peak of their powers.
Purton has also identified talented youngsters early in their career and made a case to ride them to owners and trainers.
“Obviously momentum is key, getting on the right horses is important and at the end of the day that will dictate what number I get to,” he said.
That situation will again play out on Wednesday night with Purton getting the ride on talented three-year-old Hainan Star for the first time.
The Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained gelding has shown ability in his short four-start career but has been unable to pull it together for a victory to date.
After riding him during a recent barrier trial, Purton is confident he has the necessary skills to race around the tight city track in the Class Four Deauville August Yearling Sales Handicap (1,000m).
“He is a big, heavy horse, he is probably going to get better as he goes on with a little bit more racing but he has got speed and he gets around the Valley quite well, so hopefully we can get a good start and be in a good spot,” he said.
“He has got the natural ability, even though he is a big horse. He probably lacks a bit of strength in the latter parts of his race but he has the speed and that can take them a long way here.”
Purton will also ride the Richard Gibson-trained Mr Darthvegar in the Class Four France Galop Members’ Department Handicap (1,650m), who was narrowly beaten last start, along with Magic Legend, Racing Fighter, Fearless Fire and Hero Time on the night.