It’s been two years since Zac Purton and Michael Chang Chun-wai combined for a winner but the jockey is optimistic that drought can be broken with debutant Amigos Giggle at Sha Tin on Thursday.
The Australian superstar has ridden at least one winner for every other Hong Kong-based trainer since Saul’s Special saluted at Happy Valley on June 26, 2019 so he and Chang are due.
The trainer has been going through a rough trot in that time with just 26 victories across the past two seasons but Amigos Giggle has flashed some potential at the trials and provides some hope.
Purton has been aboard for three of his four official hit-outs and likes what he has seen.
“He only does what he has to do but he’s obviously got some ability,” he said. “His trials have been nice enough to hope that he can go to the races and when it matters he can just give up what you need.”
The three-year-old has drawn gate five for the Class Four Continuous Development Handicap (1,200m), giving Purton options about where he settles in the run.
“He’s having his first start so we’ll just get him out of the gates and let him show us where he wants to be, if it’s in front so be it, if they’re a little bit quicker than him then he can take a sit behind,” he said.
“He’s been versatile in his trials so I’m not too worried about where we’re going to be.”
Despite the fact Chang hasn’t had a winner since May 12, Purton is confident Amigos Giggle will be in the finish.
“He’s shown enough in his trials to suggest that he’s going to be competitive so he’s just got to take that to the races,” the four-time champion jockey said.
“I’d like to think that he’s a winning chance but if he can’t win, then certainly top four.”
Purton has a full book of 10 rides on the day, including the David Hayes-trained Metro Warrior, who steps out in the Class Three Better Future Handicap (1,000m).
The four-year-old hasn’t won since the opening meeting of the season but has placed in four of his past five starts and his jockey expects him to be around the mark again, even if he does find it hard to salute.
“I think he’s been running really well. The horse looks great, he’s been honest and he’s certainly giving himself a chance to win races but he just keeps finding one better than him,” he said.
“I’m certainly not going to knock him but it would be nice to see him win another race. He’s drawn the right gate, he likes the straight track so there are a few positives for him.
“He doesn’t really like getting his head in front, that’s the problem. I thought I had the leader and the winner covered but the more I asked him, the less he gave me. To be fair, the winner kept kicking as well so that made it a little bit harder for him.
“Even the time I won on him, he travelled up really nicely and when I let him go, he doesn’t give a lot – he doesn’t like to run away from the other horses. I’ve got to try to convince him to do that.”