Zac Purton has heaped praise on Packing Victory after the four-year-old kept his unblemished record intact with a gutsy victory in the Class Three Fu Tai Handicap (1,200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Purton hunted Packing Victory up inside leader Good Health from gate two before eventually taking a sit, working out around that horse on the turn and digging deep in the dying stages to hold off a pair of impressive debutants.
“They served it up to him, the thing that’s got no form at all decides to run a half-mile race and he’s out charging like he’s leading the Light Brigade. I couldn’t get stuck behind so I had to make sure I had clear galloping room, it suits my horse to be ridden like that,” Purton said.
“What it did is made him work all the way – he worked at the start, he worked around the corner, he worked on straightening and he had to work for the win. It was a very brave effort from a young horse and he couldn’t have been more impressive really.”
He sure knows how to win...— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) September 26, 2021
Packing Victory remains unbeaten with a gritty success under @zpurton, staving off a pair of impressive first-timers, Five Elements and Master Delight. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/kdkXC3tPyU
Packing Victory has been a touch wayward in his first two starts but took another step forward with a more polished performance as the $1.45 favourite.
“He wanted to drift out again around the corner but in the straight he balanced but up a little bit better and he’s learning, it’s part of the process,” said Purton, who also saluted aboard Dennis Yip Chor-hong’s Iron King.
Trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing outlined his four-year-old series aspirations for Packing Victory after the galloper’s opening-day victory three weeks ago but he’s in no rush with the Classic Mile over four months away and the son of Reliable Man’s rating set to jump into the high 70s.
“I want to stick to 1,200m, there’s no point changing at this stage,” Shum said. “We’ll see how he pulls up and most importantly I’ll keep him happy. I’ll see how the horse performs and I’ll make a decision with Zac and the owners.
“He’s a nice horse, there’s no doubt. He tries very hard and he’s got a big heart – even though they got close he wouldn’t stop, he kept going and did enough to win.”
Packing Victory hit the line a neck clear of Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s Five Elements, with the John Size-trained Master Delight a close third.
A Group Two winner in New Zealand, Five Elements carried a certain expectation into the race and was sent off a $8.30 third elect, while Master Delight was having his first start since finishing seventh in the Group One Australian Guineas (1,600m) at Flemington in February.
Ho finds his Hero
Peter Ho Leung and Alex Lai Hoi-wing combined for their first winner in almost five years, with The Best Hero breaking through in the Class Four Oi Man Handicap (1,200m) on the all-weather track.
Lai did his apprenticeship under Ho and the trainer stuck with his former charge after The Best Hero had finished second at three of his past four starts, with the jockey delivering Ho his second victory of the term and snaring his first in the process.
“He used to be my apprentice, we have good communication, we work as a team,” Ho said. “The owner, jockey, trainer and the horse – everything works.”
The Best Hero was a fast-finishing second two weeks ago and the four-year-old international sales graduate again found himself in a tight finish.
After travelling midfield, Lai took The Best Hero out towards the centre of the track straightening for home and lifted him over the top of debutant Whizz Kid in the dying stages.
“Last time he was a bit unlucky – [he needed] one more stride – but today because of the track bias to maybe the outside, that’s why he can make this decision on the turn to go on the outside and give him clear running,” Ho said.
“I asked the owner to buy this horse and finally we got a winner and we have done our job properly. The owner is happy, the horse is very honest and the jockey did exactly what I told him to do, so everything works.”
The Tony Cruz-trained Whizz Kid laid down a marker for things to come with a gutsy showing after travelling three-wide throughout from gate 12 under Karis Teetan.
Borges, Size open their accounts
Size and Vagner Borges are also officially on the board for 2021-22 after opening their accounts with Elon in the Class Three Fuk Loi Handicap (1,200m).
The four-year-old secured the first Hong Kong victory of his career by unleashing a stunning finishing burst to run over the top of his rivals on the all-weather track.
Elon, who won three races when known as Progressive Rating in Britain, struggled in his first season in his new home – failing to place from seven runs – but he seems to have acclimatised now.
Beginning from the outside gate, Borges opted to take a patient approach and dropped out to last before picking his way through the field to salute at $31, beating $173 shot Northern Dragon by a neck. The quinella returned a whopping HK$9,992.50 for a HK$10 unit.
The result was a welcome one for both Borges and Size after failing to land a blow at the first six meetings of the term.
Matthew Poon Ming-fai was the other jockey to snare his first winner of the season, piloting Infinite Power to victory for Lor in the Class Four Kwong Fuk Handicap (1,200m).
Chau just one winner away
Gun apprentice Jerry Chau Chun-lok is just one winner away from outriding his five-pound claim after collecting the 69th victory of his career with Golden Bolt in the Class Four Shun Lee Handicap (1,400m).
The 21-year-old rolled straight to the front from the outside barrier and that was where he stayed, holding off the challenge of Sunny Delight while Hang’s Decision and Darci Joy dead-heated for third.
It was the third time this season Chau has ridden a winner for his boss Douglas Whyte.
Once he wins race 70, Chau can finish his apprenticeship and his claim will be reduced to three pounds.