Purton hits a purple patch
His six-bagger takes him closer to Moreira's record
If a week ago, they had told Zac Purton that, by mid-July, he would be within striking range of Joao Moreira's epic 170 wins for a single-season record, he would have directed them to "Comedy Central".
After all, it would have seemed like a joke. It just wasn't possible.
Purton had entered the campaign's third-last fixture on Sunday needing to bag 12 winners from 31 races.
It was like asking for too much.
Then came that Super Six at Sha Tin and suddenly, with 20 races coming up - nine at Happy Valley tomorrow and 11 at Sha Tin's Sunday finale, it is beginning to look like he is ready to match and, maybe, erase Moreira's record.
"Six winners is a huge effort, of course it is, but I still need six more just to match Joao and seven if I am to break the record. I don't know if I've got the horses to do that," he said.
The ace rider completed his fourth six-timer of the campaign aboard the Frankie Lor-trained Marvellous World in the Class 4 Beijing Clubhouse Handicap over 1,200m.
Purton's fifth win came in the seventh race and turned up the heat in the trainers' premiership. An astute ride on the John Moore-trained Magic Success took the handler to within one win of long-time leader and defending champion John Size.
"It's going right to the wire," Moore said, after seeing his season's tally increase to 73. "On Wednesday, we're very strong, and then on the last day, we have the big boys out again when Thanks Forever will be back out with Zac on board."
Size has a good hand to play tomorrow night too, when both handlers could saddle eight runners apiece.
Magic Success' win under Purton in the Class 4 sprint was the gelding's second from four starts, since a mid-season transfer from the David Hall stable.
"It was a great ride from Zac," Moore said. "And, of course, the horse ran well."
Hall, too, was a beneficiary of Purton's hot streak, although the ease with which both Mr Genuine and Lucky Time landed their winners' cheques meant that the rider did not have to get overly strenuous in the run home.
The former nailed a two-length win in the Class 3 Racing Heritage Handicap and the latter sauntered to a 3¾ -length victory in the Class 4 race over the mile.
Purton's half dozen started in Race 2 aboard the Paul O'Sullivan-trained Wayfoong Charmer and also featured a score on the Benno Yung-trained Cool Celeb in Race 5.
Purton had to settle for second in the afternoon's feature, as Classic Unicorn made it two from two in the Class 3 Members Cup Handicap over 1,000m.
The champ had been in the plate for the three-year-old's debut, but handed the reins to Derek Leung when the Chris So-trained gelding was allotted a weight below Purton's minimum.
The chestnut sprinted home in 55.09sec, 1¼ lengths ahead of Purton on Seven Heavens.
Tomorrow, all eyes will be on Purton as he seeks his half dozen - and, maybe more. - HKJC