JOCKEY Zac Purton may have recorded a personal milestone when surpassing 800 winners in Hong Kong last week, but more importantly he breathed new life into the jockeys’ championship.
The former champion is in scintillating form at present and his recent handful of winners at Happy Valley and Sha Tin closed him to within 11 winners of current titleholder Joao Moreira.
And I have no doubt that ‘Magic Man’ Moreira is starting to feel the pressure. The Brazilian is normally over the hill and clear of his rivals at this stage of the season, but the persistence of Purton is starting to produce cracks in the cool-headed champion.
Bare facts state that Moreira has ridden only five winners in his last 40 rides – the majority of them favourites – while his arch-rival has ridden more than double (11) from the same number of rides.
Both are in action at Happy Valley this afternoon, and it will be long odds against about either of them leaving the inner-city track emptyhanded.
The highlight has to be the third race at 1.15pm, the intriguing Busan Handicap run over 1m2f. In-form and well-drawn Giant Turtle looks the obvious leader and will try to dictate a pace which suits him best.
He is going to be hard to catch, but the form book shows the Purton-ridden SUPER CHIC is now 12lbs better off for just over a length’s defeat by Giant Turtle when they raced over the same distance at Sha Tin back in January.
Connections of Super Chic will be hoping this is a successful prelude to the chances of their champion Time Warp, who lines up in the Group One QEII Cup on Champions Day at Sha Tin on Sunday. So, make sure you grab a copy of City AM on Friday for a full preview of the day’s action.
Master trainer John Size and Moreira set a poser with progressive three-time track winner Ha Ha Heart who travels over half-a-mile further than he ever has raced before, while former Group Three winner Zilong was eye-catching in a recent trial.
Half-an-hour later at 1.45pm, Purton rides the best bet of the afternoon when he climbs aboard MERRYGOWIN over the extended mile.
This New Zealand-bred five-year-old has run well despite having no luck with double-figure draws in his last three races. This time he has drawn the plum inside stall, and the step up in distance is a massive bonus.
Super Chic 1.15pm Happy Valley
Merrygowin 1.45pm Happy Valley