Purton just one short of 1,000th HK win
The Hong Kong champion jockey boots home four-timer at Happy Valley
There is no stopping the Zac Purton juggernaut.
The champion jockey continued his domination with a four-timer at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, moving to within one of becoming only the second rider in history to accrue 1,000 wins in Hong Kong.
The Australian ace advanced to the 999 mark in Race 7, but it took all of his strength and persuasion to convince Golden Dash to knuckle down and take the Class 3 Violet Hill Handicap over 1,200m.
"He didn't really want to go through with it, he was doing his best to try and pull up," said Purton, after the Danny Shum-trained galloper had got the better of a stretch duel with the Umberto Rispoli-ridden Jumbo Prize.
"The inside horse actually came back on me, but once he saw it, through the blinker, he actually gave me a little bit more and that was the difference."
Green Luck was unable to round off Purton's evening with a champagne victory, running home second behind Doctor Geoff in the concluding Class 2 Wong Nai Chung Gap Handicap over 1,800m.
Aldo Domeyer's mount survived an inquiry after lugging into Green Luck and bumping his rival a couple of times in the final strides.
Purton missed the 1,000 but he arrived downtown for the eight-race card with more than one milestone blinking on his radar, needing 30 wins from the final 11 meetings to match Joao Moreira's all-time single season win record of 170. Now the target is 26 from 10.
Moreira took the opener with a beautifully judged ride on Salto Olimpico to hold off the late-closing Purton by a short head - that moved the Brazilian to clear second in the premiership on 77 wins.
But the man of the moment was not second-best for long. Wins on Godspeed, Snap Fit and Reliable Team brought a hat-trick by mid-point.
Reliable Team proved up to the task on debut. Purton rousted the Frankie Lor-trained three-year-old from gate 11 and was on the lead at the 900m point.
Headed approaching the home turn, the grey gelding responded to a powerful drive to score by 1/2 length.
"He did a good job because he was standing too close to the gate, so when it opened, he was a bit awkward out," said Purton.
"I had to ask him to get there and then Keith (Yeung) decided to take off before the turn so I put the acid to him early, but what I did was switch him on and click him into gear. He fought them off well, it was a good effort first time."
Snap Fit made it two from two in winning the Class 4 Mount Gough Handicap over 1,000m. Trainer Caspar Fownes expects his charge to measure up in Class 3 after carrying 131lb (59.5kg) to a 21/2-length win under Purton at odds of 1.8. - HKJC