Racing

Purton does what he knows best

Reigning Hong Kong champion snares Happy Valley four-timer to take top spot in the jockeys' table

It was all too familiar, as Hong Kong's champion jockey Zac Purton was at his brilliant best at Happy Valley's first meeting of the new season on Wednesday night with a quartet of wins to top the premiership table.

The Australian ace is leading the title race, just after two meetings with six wins from 17 rides, starring at a happy hunting ground where he has drawn a blank only once since Sept 11 last year.

"I would've been happy to ride a couple of winners, so it's a great start," said the four-time champion jockey.

Purton kicked off his four-timer by taking advantage of the inside draw with Harmony N Home, in the first section Class 4 Quarry Bay Handicap over 1,200m, with a sweet ground-saving run to victory.

"He had barrier one. He jumped well and sat on the back of the leader. He had a perfect run and that's as good as he is, he couldn't give me any more," said Purton.

The Hong Kong International Sale graduate registered his first win. As a 58-rater, he looks set to step up to Class 3 for his next assignment.

"He goes up in grade now. With a light weight next time, he's going to need a similar run."

The champ then took the next race with a sweeping ride aboard the David Hall-trained Melbourne Hall in the second section of the Class 4 Quarry Bay Handicap over 1,200m.

The Harbour Watch gelding stepped away fairly from Gate 4. He was buried on the fence at the rear of the field behind a wall of horses, before peeling out in the straight to score by a neck.

"It didn't go to plan. I got squeezed not long after the start and I was buried back on the fence with a lot horses around me at the half-mile," said Purton.

"I thought I couldn't win from where I was but, luckily, they fanned out and I got a nice run through, and he got the job done."

Purton completed a running treble aboard the Francis Lui-trained Alpha Hedge, who made all for a comfortable victory in the Class 3 Fortress Hill Handicap over 1,650m.

That win puts the six-year-old in Class 2, following the two-length success.

Purton's fourth win of the evening came when the Caspar Fownes-trained Guy Dragon took the finale, the first section of the Class 3 Causeway Bay Handicap over 1,200m. - HKJC

HORSE RACING