Racing

Purton races to the lead with five-timer

The Australian is now four winners ahead of long-time leader Moreira

Zac Purton arrived at Hong Kong's Happy Valley racetrack on Wednesday night in search of the ignition that might fire him through the season's final two months to a fourth champion jockeys' title.

And, with Lady Luck on his side, a dazzling five-timer certainly proved to be the spark he wished for.

The Australian blitzed a winning hat-trick from the first three of nine races - aboard Loriz, Rich And Lucky and Bright Kid.

He met with frustration in Races 4 to 6 and bounced back in Race 7 on Reel Bizzy. He capped a great night aboard Dances With Dragon in the finale.

He finished just a short-head second on Eptiwins in Race 4.

Like his arch rival Joao Moreira, who led by a winner before the meeting, Purton had a full book of rides. Moreira drew a blank. His best were two seconds, both beaten by Purton.

Purton's five-timer has propelled him to a four-win lead in a relentless two-way tussle with Moreira for the crown that each has worn three times. The score: 114-110.

"It's been a bit of a grind, so hopefully, I've now got a few more like this ahead of me," said Purton, after sealing his first five-win haul of the campaign.

Purton kept his cool on the Caspar Fownes-trained Dances With Dragon. His topweight mount searched for a clear run and then unleashed a decisive turn-of-foot to fend off the Moreira-ridden Enrichment.

"It wasn't as cool as it probably looked," said Purton. "It was a messy race with quite a bit going on. I had to get off the fence down the back, because the horse in front couldn't hold a spot and was going nowhere.

"I had to come out around on the corner and then back in and through them. We were lucky to get the run we got but the horse did a good job, he was up to the task."

For leading trainer Ricky Yiu, he has 19 race meetings still to navigate in his push for a first Hong Kong trainers' championship. His a double widened the gap on his closest pursuer Francis Lui to nine wins.

There is a 12-win cushion over Tony Cruz. - HKJC

HORSE RACING