Zac Purton rode seven winners at a single meeting for the first time in his 23-year career, but the champion jockey left Sha Tin disappointed he had not either joined Joao Moreira in Hong Kong racing’s record books or erased his absent rival from them.

Purton partnered Yes We Can, Fiery Diamond, Sunny Baby, Beauty Eternal, Handsome Twelve, Man Star and Erimo to Sunday successes, improving his personal best from the six victories he registered at four individual race days during his 2018-19 title-winning season to the magnificent seven, a mark only Moreira has bettered in the history of Hong Kong racing.

“It’s been a really good day,” said Purton, ever a master of understatement, before making a comment that goes a long way to explaining why his trophy cabinet includes five Hong Kong championships.

“Seven winners is good, but I’m a bit flat I didn’t get eight. When I was walking over today, I thought to myself ‘I can break the record’. It’s the only time I’ve been in Hong Kong I’ve thought that.

“I was really confident with the barriers I had and the horses I was on. The only horse I thought would be tricky was Fiery Diamond. When he won, I thought ‘OK, it’s going to be easy from here’, and then I got beat on the odds-on favourite in the next race.”

Purton would have ridden each of first half a dozen Sha Tin winners if Campione had justified Class One Egret Handicap (1,200m) favouritism. That Purton’s shortest-priced conveyance, whose Italian name means champion in English, ran fourth in the highest-rated contest on the card was a prime example of irony.

But Purton rewarded those punters who stuck fat with him throughout Sunday’s meeting, securing the Jockey Challenge after just six of the 10 events and claiming both trophy races – the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce Cup (1,650m) and the Chinese Recreation Club Challenge Cup (1,200m).

He only missed the frame on The Irishman in the finale, the Class Two Swan Handicap (1,200m) won by Packing Victory.

Zac Purton celebrates his Sha Tin seven-timer.

Even though Purton was aboard nine of the 10 Sha Tin favourites, an all-up bet on his seven winners would have returned more than $34,000 for a $10 stake.

As easy as Purton made it look on his best-ever day, he wants everyone to know it is not that simple.

“There’s a lot that goes into it. It’s not as easy as what people may think it is,” he said.

Bentley joins forces with Purton to ride the card, landing his first HK treble

“You come to the races twice a week. You need the right barriers, the right rail position, the right track bias, the right tempo in the races. And, of course, you need the horses to turn up on the day.

“My job is to put them in the right spots, to give them their chance. If they’re good enough, they win. If they’re not good enough, they don’t win.”

Purton insists this term’s jockeys’ championship is not all over bar the shouting – “it’s never a one-man race, it’s always harder than that” – but with 21 victories against his name, he leads Vincent Ho Chak-yiu (nine) by 12 already. If Purton stays fit and healthy, he is nailed on for title number six.