A day that ended so horribly for Zac Purton had begun with a reminder of just how much the jockey brings to Hong Kong racing.
Thankfully the official report at the end of racing was that the Australian was recovering in hospital and in a stable condition after his fall from Lucky Patch in the Hong Kong Sprint, and there were well-wishes being passed around for a quick and speedy recovery for him and fellow jockeys Lyle Hewitson and Yuichi Fukunaga.
Earlier, it had been three races run and three races won by Purton and trainer David Hall was fittingly singing his praises after the first of those – up on Fast Most Furious in the Class Two Maurice Handicap (1,600m).
“He’s the celebrity masterclass jockey and he’s delivered in spades,” was Hall’s appraisal of the Australian hoop’s effort.
Wins followed on Hall’s Good Runner in the Class Four Beauty Generation Handicap (1,400m), and then the John Size-trained Tempest Express in the Class Three Jim And Tonic Handicap (1,800m) – giving Purton enough points to win the Jockey Challenge, despite missing his final five rides.
Purton’s head was turned towards the big screen and the replay of his work on the way back in from the third – and he had every right to be proud of his work thus far.
Fast Most Furious made it win number six from 42 starts after the eight-year-old took the class drop and Purton had the veteran poised behind the leading pair before dodging a bit of trouble about 200m out and racing to a half-length win.
He was unlucky first-up this season when second behind John Size’s Lucky Express in the Panasonic Cup, then was undone by the pace second-up.
“He’s been a great horse for the stable and he keeps turning up every season,” explained Hall. “He’s just so consistent. I don’t know how long it’s going to last. I was a bit disappointed we didn’t get the win in the Panasonic Cup, which he deserved. Obviously last run he still put up another brave performance in a tactical race that didn’t suit him.
“I thought it was going to be tough today with the big weight. Certainly things had to go his way and there might have been a few unlucky stories in the race perhaps but when you’re carrying that weight and you get the job done it’s well deserved for that horse. He needed the perfect ride and he got that from Zac.”
The Class Two mile on international day has traditionally given punters an early pointer towards next year’s Derby in March and the effort of Caspar Fownes’ third-placed Senor Toba after missing the kick was duly noted, given the horse arrived in Hong Kong having registered a second in May’s Group One Queensland Derby in Australia – the exact same form 2016 Hong Kong Derby winner Werther carried into his stellar career in the city.
Elsewhere on the card there was a fourth win from five starts for Tony Cruz’s rising star California Spangle in the Class Two Lord Kanaloa Handicap (1,200m). Matthew Chadwick grabbed the lead from the gate and showed some ticker, fighting back when challenged by Fantastic Way halfway down the straight to salute by a length.