Run Run Cool helped Zac Purton erase his championship deficit by accounting for hot favourite Flying Season in impressive fashion at Sha Tin on Saturday.
Both horses headed into the Class Three Cheung Lin Shan Handicap (1,000m) after being raised 12 points for stylish wins in their previous runs and punters chose to side with three-year-old Flying Season, who was well backed into $1.4.
That money proved misguided as Run Run Cool tracked his speed-setting rival to the 300m mark before sprinting clear to win by an easy two and a quarter lengths.
The win delighted trainer Frankie Lor Fu-chuen, who has coaxed improvement from the four-year-old by employing a change in headgear.
“When I changed the gear for him to a pacifier with a cowl, he looked much better,” Lor said. “Before, he was quite a nervous horse so I tried this gear and he now looks good.”
A second wide-margin success in a row may result in Run Run Cool jumping from Class Four to Class Two company in just two strides and the handicapper may have a tough task to assess this race, with Flying Season only just managing to hold off outsider Power Koepp for second.
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The victory took Lor to within one of John Size at the top of the trainers’ championship and he is relishing going up against his mentor in the final stages of the season.
“I know my old boss will try really hard and I will too,” Lor said. “We still have three months of the season left, so we will see what happens.”
Lor heads into Champions Day next weekend hopeful that Master Eight can pick up his first Group One in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize and he will be partnered by big-race jockey Karis Teetan.
“Master Eight is in good form and on Monday I will put Karis Teetan on him for a gallop,” Lor said. “Karis is a lucky guy and I hope that carries on.”
Purton went into this Saturday meeting a couple of victories behind Moreira but the closest the Magic Man got to adding to his 103 winners for the season came when Beauty Fit finished third behind So We Joy in the Class Three Mount Butler Handicap (1,650m).
While the Brazilian left Sha Tin disappointed, Purton’s journey home would have been much more enjoyable after he reclaimed the lead in the jockeys’ championship with a treble.
Purton got off to a flier on the card when Red Brick Fighter took advantage of a drop to Class Five company for the first time since November 2020 to salute in the Windy Gap Handicap (1,400m).
Despite being trapped three wide for much of the race, David Hall’s six-year-old was always travelling well and kicked clear into the straight to win by an easy two and a half lengths and earn himself an immediate return to a higher grade.
Purton was also successful on the Sha Tin dirt when the well-backed Blotting Paper brought up a double for trainer Richard Gibson in the Class Four Tai Tam Gap Handicap (1,650m).
Tough as teak! Unicornbaby digs deep under @alfie_ck94. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/6BvkXk8tbH— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) April 16, 2022
Backed into $3.7 favourite, Purton was always well positioned in the first two and had more than enough in reserve to hold off the fast-finishing Handsome Twelve.
“He’s been knocking on the door for quite a long time,” Gibson said. “I think the difference is between Zac and his colleagues. He makes everything look easy and that’s his greatest attribute.”
Gibson had struck earlier on the card when Unicornbaby put a string of disappointing runs behind him to win at odds of $27 under Alfred Chan Ka-hei in the Class Four Stanley Gap Handicap (1,400m).