After an incredibly profitable international week, star jockey Zac Purton kept the momentum going with a quartet at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
The 37-year-old won his second International Jockeys’ Championship last week – collecting the HK$500,000 (US$64,500) first prize – before claiming the HK$28 million Hong Kong Cup with Japanese raider Normcore on Sunday.
After a slow start to the season by his lofty standards, luck looks to have turned Purton’s way after he punched home half the card at the midweek meeting.
The Australian has his tail up at the moment, but feels the key change has come from the barrier gods.
That's four!— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) December 16, 2020
Hong Kong's champion jockey @zpurton is riding at the peak of his powers, securing a quartet as Flying Genius goes home best in tonight's penultimate race. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/uWL1xgeBX8
“It always feels good when you ride a few winners and you have a good week, there’s no doubt about that,” Purton said.
“I don’t think I’m doing anything any differently to what I was before. In sport, sometimes that’s just the way the ball bounces and it was the way things were going.
“It’s not that anything tactically was going wrong, I was just being dealt some difficult cards and I had to ride through it until it came good.
“The barriers have been the key really – they’ve made all the difference. When you’re in an environment as competitive as this, you need some help along the way and they’ve been certainly helping my horses in the past week.”
He kicked off the meeting by lifting David Hall’s Bundle Of Delight to victory, before adding wins aboard the Dennis Yip Chor-hong-trained Smart Cousin, Jimmy Ting Koon-ho’s Noble Birth and Flying Genius for Tony Cruz.
The opportunity on Noble Birth only opened up because Neil Callan was suspended but Purton took full advantage as the four-year-old enjoyed the gun run from barrier three.
“When he knew Neil was suspended, he asked me if he could ride the horse. It’s a bit unlucky for Neil but we had already decided we were going to this race,” Ting said.
“We wanted to take a sit last time and get some cover but we weren’t able to do that from the outside barrier, but he wasn’t too far away. After that, Neil recommended putting the hood on – he thought it might help quieten him down.
“Today, we had the good draw and he was able to get the box-seat, that’s why he won.”
It was the middle peg of a treble for Ting – he also tasted success with Momentum Galaxy, who won the first section of the Class Four Graham Handicap (1,200m) under Frenchman Antoine Hamelin, and Baby, who captured the last for Vagner Borges.
The haul matched Ting’s previous best of three, achieved on January 8 this year, while he was particularly impressed with Momentum Galaxy’s performance.
“This season he has been very consistent, this season has been this horse’s best season,” the trainer said. “He has always been very good in the mornings, it just comes down to how suitable the race is for him.”
Cruz also enjoyed a good night with a double as Irish import Delightful Laos registered his second Hong Kong win, relishing the seven-pound claim of apprentice Jerry Chau Chun-lok, before Purton put the icing on the cake with Flying Genius in the Class Three Cochrane Handicap (1,000m).
V Chevaliers is a horse in-form, securing his third win this season at just his fifth run for the campaign, this time under a determined @AlexisBadel! @francegalop @equidia #HKracing pic.twitter.com/RnBzx89yrG— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) December 16, 2020
The Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained V Chevaliers notched his third win from five starts this campaign, Alexis Badel lifting him home to beat Happy Win Win in the Class Four Lyndhurst Handicap (1,650m).
Meanwhile, apprentice Alfred Chan Ka-hei was hit with his fourth suspension of the season – outed for three days and fined HK$5,000 for causing interference on Mission Tycoon.