Champion jockey Zac Purton believes he will struggle to reach the lofty heights he has hit this season again so he is enjoying every win he can get.
The Australian has enjoyed a golden season and is an outside chance of breaking Joao Moreira’s record of 170 wins should the cards fall his way, but he will face stiffer competition next season with the Brazilian once again becoming a full-time club-retained jockey and the addition of Blake Shinn.
The 36-year-old has racked up 146 winners to date, including seven Group One wins and overseas success in Singapore on Southern Legend, but was happy to play down his future prospects.
“I don’t think I will be able to hit the milestones that I have this season. To be able to win the amount of races I have won, it will be very hard to do again,” Purton said.
“It is a season that I will forever remember and one I will look back on fondly.”
With Purton needing to strike at around 28 per cent for the remainder of the season to go past Moreira’s record, he takes a strong book of seven rides into Wednesday’s Sha Tin all-weather meeting.
Included in those is the John Moore-trained Buddies, who could play a pivotal role in lifting the Australian trainer to an unlikely trainers’ championship.
After breaking his maiden status on the Sha Tin dirt, Buddies attempts to make it three wins in a row under Purton.
Having drawn barrier 14, however, the three-year-old is unlikely to have an easy time of things.
“It looks like the horse is progressing through his grades at the moment. He is in good form, he is in a good frame of mind so it is just a matter of having some luck going into that first corner and that will dictate the end result for us,” Purton said.
“There is a lot of pressure going into that first corner so I don’t know what we are going to do yet, I will be guided by whatever John says to do.
“How he starts and how the horses inside me begin matter but it looks like it’s not going to be easy for us.”
Stepping into Class Three company for the first time in the Lido Handicap (1,650m), Purton said he was happy with Buddies’ ability to round-up the leaders in his last start, putting it down to increased racing confidence.
“He didn’t shirk the task when I asked him, not like previously when he got there and failed to close the races off,” he said.
“It showed he was more versatile, that is probably what a little bit of confidence does as well.
“He also feels like he is going to continue to improve, in the last furlong of his races he doesn’t know how to close it off and attack the line. In his last couple he has put them away between the 400m and 200m, so once he learns to take that step, there is more in the tank for him.”