Zac Purton became the fastest jockey to 1,500 Hong Kong wins at Sha Tin on Saturday when Handsome Twelve transported the Australian superstar to his milestone victory on his 8,896th ride in the city.
The Christmas Eve triumphs of hat-trick scorer Marado in the Class Three Pine Handicap (1,400m) and dirt specialist Handsome Twelve in the Class Three Spruce Handicap (1,650m) were sufficient for Purton to join Douglas Whyte in Hong Kong’s 1,500 club.
It took Whyte 9,293 rides to become the foundation member of that society, so Purton joined the club in 397 starts fewer than the South African, who retired from the saddle in February 2019 after he had booted home 1,813 winners from 12,269 races.
“It’s good to get to the milestone, of course. It’s a big number. It’s not easy to ride any winner here in Hong Kong,” said Purton, whose 2022-23 season statistics read 69 victories from 247 starts.
“I’ve been very lucky. I appreciate all the support I’ve had from the owners and trainers.
“Without them giving me the opportunity, I certainly wouldn’t be able to get to where I am.
“But hopefully, this is just another number on the way towards a bigger number towards the end of the season.”
After placings aboard Fast Buck in the Class Four (Restricted) Amaryllis Handicap (1,400m), Golden Bull in the Class Four Erica Handicap (1,200m) and Brilliant Way in the Class Three Yan Chai Trophy (1,200m), Purton moved to 1,499 Hong Kong wins when he partnered Pierre Ng Pang-chi’s Marado to the six-year-old galloper’s third consecutive success.
Thirty-five minutes later, Purton hit pay dirt – literally – when Benno Yung Tin-pang’s Handsome Twelve ran down Chancheng Prince on his favourite all-weather track.
It was the five-year-old horse’s fourth Hong Kong win, and all of them have occurred over Sha Dirt’s 1,650m with Purton in the saddle.
Handsome Twelve completed a meeting double for Yung – his impressive debutant Forerunner took out the Amaryllis Handicap under Hugh Bowman – but the night before Christmas belonged to Purton and the latest remarkable achievement of his remarkable career.