What do Dylan Mo Hin-tung, Zac Purton and Blake Shinn have in common?
Well, aside from Vincent Ho Chak-yiu, they are the only three jockeys to have ever won a race in which Golden Sixty has competed and, although Shinn has a ride in the Group One Champions Mile on Healthy Happy, it would appear that Purton is the only one of those riders with a realistic chance of doubling up on FWD Champions Day this weekend.
Purton will partner California Spangle against Hong Kong’s superstar and his mount steps out of the four-year-old series for the first time after winning the Classic Cup and being beaten only by Romantic Warrior in the Classic Mile and the Hong Kong Derby.
It’s a big step up in class for the Tony Cruz-trained runner and Purton is under no illusion to the task his young star faces.
“Unfortunately we’re stepping out against Golden Sixty and he’s a champion,” Purton said.
“He’s one of the best we’ve ever seen in Hong Kong and if he wins on the weekend he’s going to break the prize-money record, so we’re coming up against a horse out of the box that’s extraordinary.
Golden Sixty’s winning streak comes to an end as Waikuku shocks champ
“It’s a tough ask and his rating says that he’s out of it and he’s got a lot to find, but he’s still a relatively lightly raced horse with everything ahead of him. I’m looking forward to seeing how he compares to Golden Sixty and where we’re at.
“Golden Sixty still looks like he has got something to give and he could very well be at the top of his game next season as well. While he’s around, he’s going to be tough to beat.”
Despite beating Golden Sixty with Waikuku in the Stewards’ Cup in January, there is not much that Purton will take from that as he heads into his next big-race ride against the champion this weekend.
“They are different horses and it’s a different race,” Purton said. “Golden Sixty has drawn a different barrier and is probably going to be ridden in a different manner, so I can’t see too many similarities to when I was able to turn him over last time.
“I’m always optimistic and I’ll go out there, get my guy into his rhythm and hope that he’ll be competitive.”
Purton has also picked up decent rides in the other Group One contests, with Sight Success well worthy of his place in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1,200m) after a career-best effort when second to Wellington last time.
“He’s come a long way in a short period of time,” Purton said. “It wasn’t that long ago he was going around Happy Valley, but he’s managed to string a number of good runs together, come up in the ratings very quickly and is now in the deep end against the big boys and holding his own.
“He won a couple of starts ago, he’s drawn a good gate and he was very close last time. We meet Wellington worse off at the weights but my guy is flying and when they are in that purple patch of form, they can take that extra step.”
Purton is reunited with Cheerful Days for the first time in five starts in the QE II Cup and is keen to see what his mount can show as he stretches out to 2,000m for the first time.
“I rode him a lot early on in his career and he’s obviously done very well this season,” Purton said.
“He’s now running at a distance he hasn’t been before in a class of race he’s never been in before, so it’s more a case of putting him in, seeing where he is and being hopeful more than confident, but the horse is really bright and jumping out of his skin in the morning.”