Zac Purton’s dominant start to the season went to another level at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, with the star Australian landing his second four-timer in the space of four days.
Victories aboard Viva Popcorn, Harmony N Blessed, Stormtrouper and Diamond Brilliant saw Purton open up an ominous 11-win lead over Joao Moreira in the jockeys’ premiership and the four-time champion has saluted at least once at the past 15 meetings he’s ridden at.
Harmony N Blessed’s success was the seventh time Purton and Hayes have combined for victory this season, while Danny Shum Chap-shing has provided the jockey with five winners.
“Generally my trainers take a little while to get going at the start but Danny came back with purpose and wanted to get going early and so did David,” Purton said of his electric start.
“Two stables having horses ready early gets me rolling early and then I get to feed off that and get support from other stables and then it’s the flow-on effect.
“Being stuck here in the off-season, all my friends had left town so my weight was in a good spot. I didn’t have to kill myself to try and get down. The injuries I had last season are a lot better than they were. So you just package everything up and you can see what happens when I get given the opportunities.”
Harmony N Blessed’s victory in the Class Three Longines Cup (1,000m) was bittersweet, with the five-year-old suffering a bleed in the process of racking up his second win from as many starts this season.
“I thought it was outstanding, he showed a lot of fight and got a lot of heat through the run, but I’m bitterly disappointed that he bled,” Hayes said.
“It’s a credit to the horse. You often find if a horse bleeds and runs poorly, it’ll generally affect them long term but if they bleed and win – and run the times he’s running – they can come back and I hope he does. He’ll have a holiday, Conghua here we come.”
The Dennis Yip Chor-hong-trained Stormtrouper was an impressive winner of the third section of the Class Four Tiger Prawn Handicap (1,200m), while Benno Yung Tin-pang’s Diamond Brilliant made it three wins from his past four starts in the Class Three Speed Vision Handicap (1,200m).
Shum prepared one of the more impressive winners on the card in debutant Romantic Warrior, with the international sales graduate taking out the first section of the Tiger Prawn Handicap despite covering plenty of ground from gate 12, however it was Moreira in the saddle.
“He’s a nice horse, he’s had a good preparation,” Shum said. “Even though he had drawn 12, before the race me and Joao thought the pace wouldn’t be too fast and he could follow Manfred Man [Ka-leung’s] horse [Great Harvest].
“Unfortunately he was pushed three-deep with no cover but he’s a tough horse. It was a good win.”
Vincent Ho Chak-yiu was the other jockey with multiple winners, snaring a double thanks to victories aboard Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s in-form four-year-old Fa Fa in the Class Three Telecom Fighters Handicap (1,650m) and Yung’s All Joyful in the Class Four Flying Elite Handicap (1,650m).
Jimmy Ting Koon-ho’s Alloy King took out the Class Five Great Harvest Handicap (1,200m) in class-record time, shaving .45 of a second off the record set by the galloper with the race named after him, while Viva Popcorn’s victory came in the colours made famous by the great Viva Pataca.
Man’s Happy Gathering took out the second section of the Tiger Prawn Handicap, while all bets placed on Ever Joy were refunded after Paul O’Sullivan’s galloper had his head behind the upright as the gates opened and missed the start significantly.
Yung took the training honours on the evening, with his double taking him to six winners for the campaign and into the top 10 in the race for trainers’ title.