Purton's Fabulous Five
Australian closes in to seven winners behind Moreira in HK jockey's title
In what has been a month of milestones for jockey Zac Purton, the rider reached a new level after scoring a five-timer at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
His quintet of winners - aboard Super Chic, Merrygowin, Fortune Bo Bo, The Judge and Cheerfuljet - took him to 809 wins and saw him move to third in the all-time list of most successful riders in Hong Kong.
He has surpassed compatriot Brett Prebble (804) for the first time. Only Douglas Whyte (1,780) and Tony Cruz (946) have ridden more winners in the jurisdiction.
Coincidentally, it was for the last-named that Purton brought up his first win, with Cruz confident he may finally have figured out the key to Super Chic, after the 2016 Italian Derby winner broke through for his first Hong Kong win in the Class 3 Busan Handicap over 2,200m.
Originally bought as a candidate for the 2017 BMW Hong Kong Derby, Super Chic, who won the Group 2 Derby Italiano (2,200m) at Capannelle - finished 13th in the first two legs of that year's Four-Year-Old Classic Series - the Hong Kong Classic Mile and Hong Kong Classic Cup (1,800m) won by Rapper Dragon.
It took until Super Chic dropped to a mark of 71 - from an arrival rating of 89 - to be able to break through.
With the five-timer, Purton has moved to within seven wins of Moreira in the jockeys' championship race, with the leader taking his seasonal haul to 97 with victory in the first section of the Class 4 Incheon Handicap (1,200m) aboard game front-runner Eighty Eighty.
The rider is now eyeing a second premiership, having bested Moreira to win the prize in 2013/14.
"Every little bit helps and it is at a crucial time in the season," said Purton. "Hopefully, I can keep the ball rolling and have another meeting like this soon, that will make it interesting. It's good for racing in Hong Kong, it creates interest.
"It all comes down to opportunities. If you are on the right horses, it's the biggest and most important thing. At the moment, I've got a nice bit of support from a number of stables. If I could just pick up a little more, I think I'd be in with a real chance. When you are on horses that are in form and running nice races and you are always competitive, it gives you that hunger and that drive to really have that crack." - HKJC