Zac Purton maintained his two-win lead in the jockeys’ championship after he and rival Joao Moreira managed only one win each at Sha Tin on Sunday afternoon.

Moreira struck early to trim the margin to one, taking the opening event – the Pearce Memorial Challenge Cup (1,200m) for Griffins – aboard Forever Friends, holding off Purton aboard favourite Happy Won by a short-head.

Purton hit back aboard the David Hall-trained Flying Mighty in the Class Five Wong Cup (1,600m) to restore his lead and had a number of chances to increase his advantage later in the card, coming up short aboard four favourites.

Moreira then missed a chance to secure a double in the finale, finishing a close second aboard $2.7 chance Keefy in the Class Two Chow Silver Plate (1,400m), with Circuit Stellar saluting by a neck.

The title fight remains on a knife’s edge with 20 races remaining in the season, with Purton boasting a 132-130 buffer heading into the final two meetings.

Frankie Lor Fu-chuen further tightened in his grip on the trainers’ premiership, with the scoreline still 90-84 after a day where he and rival John Size failed to taste success.

HKIS bounces back

The Hong Kong International Sale fell well short of the heights it has reached in the past – there is still considerable economic uncertainty – but the average splashed out on each horse was up significantly on last year’s auction.

A Deep Field gelding out of More Than Ready mare Bousquet topped Saturday’s sale at HK$7.8 million, with the 17 lots put through the ring fetching at total of HK$71 million at an average of HK$4.1 million, up from HK$2.95 million in 2021, while the median reached HK$3.6 million, up from HK$2.8 million in 2021.

“With significant increases in average and gross turnover, the club is overall really happy with the outcome of the sale – the strong results are a reflection of the Hong Kong Jockey Club members’ confidence in the horses that have been selected for the sale, the results of the graduates that have come out of the sale but most importantly the confidence and strength of Hong Kong racing and this is a reflection of the significant increases in prize money for next season,” said Danny Rolston, the Jockey Club’s recently appointed executive manager of the international sale and owners advisory services.

“I think the two top lots were fairly obviously going to be the highlight horses, they breezed particularly well and they’re both by stallions that are very popular.

“Beyond that it’s really hard to predict what the horses are going to sell for and just how much the turnover will be but we’re very happy to see such a significant increase in gross turnover.

“While we sold 17 horses here today, that was just the select group of horses that was decided were completely well suited to the environment in Hong Kong to be offered at the sale. There’s still 12 that didn’t come to the sale and that is a reflection of the standard that we have before we even bring them through for the auction.”

Bill Nader (left) and Danny Rolston from the Jockey Club.

A Starspangledbanner gelding by Rely On Me was the second-highest lot, attracting a bid of HK$7 million, while the sale topper continued the popularity of Deep Field, who holds the Hong Kong single-season record for prize money earned by progeny.

Deep Field also sired Group One Hong Kong Sprint winner Sky Field and a host of other Hong Kong winners including The Golden Scenery, Californiadeepshot and Winning Dreamer.

The latest Deep Field progeny to enter the Hong Kong rankings was the subject of a willing tussle before being knocked down to Yue Yun Hing, who has raced a host of successful gallopers in Hong Kong including Panfield and Butterfield.

The Yue family also claimed the second-highest lot at the sale, with Edmond Yue Kwok-yin shelling out the HK$7 million and the two most expensive gallopers at the sale will head to Danny Shum Chap-shing.

Lot 11 sells for HK$7.8 million to top Saturday’s Hong Kong International Sale.

A son of I Am Invincible had the highest pre-sale cost of HK$4.56 million and sold for pretty much exactly that, fetching HK$4.6 million.

Triple Trio goes off

The Triple Trio paid a massive HK$40,042,600 at Sha Tin after a jackpot of over HK$24 million was carried over to Sunday’s meeting, going off for .65 of a unit.

After a relatively straightforward first leg, with Flying Mighty ($5.9), Star Of Glory ($5.2) and Go Go Sixteen ($9.6) filling the placings, the second leg sent a few packing.

Winner Universal Horizon ($9.7) was only the placegetter in the single figures, with Glenealy Generals ($18) and Shining Fortune ($16) following the victor over the line.

Woodfire Bro won the final leg at $12, with the well-found President’s Choice ($4.7) and Let’s Do It ($3.2) grabbing placings.