Purton wins fourth HK title, Yiu has 4-win lead with one day left
Zac Purton locked up a fourth Hong Kong champion jockey title at Sha Tin on Sunday, when Fast Most Furious carried him past the post for his 144th win of the campaign in the Class 1 Sha Tin Mile Trophy Handicap over 1,600m.
For good measure,the Australian ace kicked home winner No. 145 aboard Mr Aldan.
Purton had an eight-win lead at the start of the 11-race card, and that was cut to seven when rival Joao Moreira pinched the opener on Lelmimi Wins.
Although Moreira took two other races with Sky Field and Good Luck Friend, he was left trailing with 138 winners.
The Brazilian is suspended for the finale at Happy Valley tomorrow and that has sealed the championship for Purton after Fast Most Furious' victory.
"It's unfortunate that it doesn't go down to the last day and makes it more interesting, but Zac's put his hand up and is a deserved winner, I think," said David Hall, trainer of Fast Most Furious.
Purton enjoyed a sweet run in the feature.
A smart break from Gate 1 enabled the champ to ease his mount back and shift to a one-off position, sixth of the eight runners.
He switched wider on the turn and his seven-year-old mount revved upside market leader General's Delight and quickened past at the 250m point with his ears pricking.
Preciousship chased hard under 10lb (4.54kg) claimer Jerry Chau but had to settle for second, half a length off the victor, who stopped the clock at 1min 34.28sec.
Meanwhile, a Ricky Yiu birthday treble kept Tony Cruz at arm's length. The trainers' championship leader outdid his rival by three wins to two to hold a clear four-win advantage going into tomorrow's finale.
Yiu, who turned 63 on Sunday, ended the afternoon with 67 wins. The static Francis Lui is tied with Cruz on 63 wins.
"I'm starting to see a bit of daylight now. I think I can be a little bit more optimistic," Yiu said, after Super Oasis put some sheen to his haul in the Class 2 Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association Trophy Handicap over 1,400m.
Yiu, who won the $1 million KrisFlyer International Sprint at Kranji with Sacred Kingdom in 2009, also scored with Natural Storm and Good Luck Friend.
"Every winner now is important, every bit counts," said Yiu.
Cruz, who struck with Circuit Hassler and Mr Aldan, knows that all too well.
"I need a few more," said the three-time champion, with a hint of resignation. "But I'm trying. We're definitely going to keep pushing right to the end."
Lui ended the day without success and, like Cruz, is looking for a huge return tomorrow, while hoping Yiu has run out of steam. - HKJC