He’s in the midst of his best September ever in Hong Kong but Zac Purton left Happy Valley furious on Wednesday night, dirty he let the high standards he sets himself slip in a moment of madness.
Purton was hit with a two-meeting ban for careless riding after failing to take sufficient measures to prevent Ka Ying Spirit from shifting out in the dying stages of his third place in the Class Four Henderson Handicap (1,000m).
Ka Ying Spirit was right in the hunt coming down the home straight but Purton admits the David Hayes-trained galloper’s winning chances had evaporated by the time he gave the gelding one last strike with the whip.
“It’s just stupid. The race was already over, hitting the horse one extra time with three strides to go was not going to get any more out of it – I couldn’t run second and I had third sewn up,” he said. “If I didn’t try to hit him and had both hands on the reins I would have been able to keep him straight.
“It was just dumb, I don’t remember the last time I did something that dumb. Maybe it’s just early in the season and I just wasn’t switched on enough, but it was dumb. That’s not the standard that I ride to, that’s what is disappointing about it.”
Purton prides himself on his clean record and has only had two suspensions in each of the past four seasons, never missing more than five meetings in a campaign in that time.
After relinquishing the jockeys’ premiership to Joao Moreira last season after a hat-trick of championships, Purton knows he has to do everything right if he’s going to reclaim the crown.
Things could hardly have gone better so far – his 11 winners for the season are already his most in September – but he’ll be sidelined for the meetings on October 10 and 13.
“They’re just momentum killers – just when you start to build a bit of momentum and start to get going, it stops you again,” said Purton, who was still able to have a laugh at his misfortune.
“Normally when I get to the track on the morning after I’ve had a few winners, there’s a few long faces among the jockeys. I got to the track this morning and it was like they were having a celebration. They were all cheering that I got suspended.”
Ferraris on the money
Luke Ferraris’ victory aboard Seven Heavens on Wednesday night took him to two winners for the season and has him perched mid-table after six meetings – not bad going at all in your first Hong Kong campaign.
After the Caspar Fownes-trained galloper was backed in from $18 to start $9.65, Ferraris made no mistake on the way to a one-and-a-half-length victory and the 19-year-old is building a solid record aboard horses who are actually in the market.
While he has two wins at a strike rate of six per cent and a further three placings from his 33 rides, Ferraris’ stats improve considerably when you only take into account gallopers priced under $11.
From just five rides, both the jockey’s winners – Go Ballistic and Seven Heavens – and two of his placings have come in this price range, with his winning strike rate of 40 per cent equalled only by another rider building his Hong Kong career in Harry Bentley and bettered only by Alfred Chan Ka-hei, who has one winner from his one ride under $11.
Obviously the sample sizes for these guys are much smaller than the likes of Purton, Moreira and Karis Teetan, it’s the first month of the season and it goes without saying that horses shorter in the market should provide better results.
But it’s not like Ferraris has been riding favourites – the shortest-priced horse he’s ridden has been $8 and his winners were $9.65 and $10.10 – and it must be doing to the youngster’s confidence the world of good to know that when the chances arise, he can put them away.