Zac's Super Saturday
Purton snares the $1.5 million Kranji Mile on Hong Kong's Southern Legend and $1 million Singapore Guineas on Mr Clint
It was double-mission accomplished for Zac Purton, the jockey with the Midas Touch.
The Hong Kong-based Australian flew in to ride in Singapore's very own Super Saturday with three Group 1 races on the card and he went home with two - on Mr Clint in the $1 million Singapore Guineas over 1,600m and then the $1.5 million invitational Kranji Mile over 1,600m aboard Hong Kong's Southern Legend.
The big double certainly made up for the disappointment in the $1 million Lion City Cup when his mount, Paparazzi, broke through the barrier and nearly became a non-starter.
After being passed fit to race, Paparazzi raced keenly and eventually beat only one home of 16 runners. The 1,200m feature, which was the final leg of the Singapore Sprint Series, was won by the Stephen Gray-trained and Glen Boss-ridden Lim's Cruiser (story on next page).
Mr Clint started as the $21 favourite in the Guineas - the final leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge - and it was vintage Purton who masterfully steered the Lee Freedman-trained and Oscar Racing Stable-owned New Zealand-bred to an authoritative victory over the late-charging King Louis.
Purton jumped Mr Clint out on level terms with the rest from his wide barrier (No. 13) and managed to settle down his mount, who was overracing slightly worse than midfield.
Stablemate Super Dynasty overtook early leader Tesoro Privado at the 1,300m mark and led them into the long straight.
Purton got to work the moment they straightened, albeit wide. Responding beautifully, Mr Clint came thundering home and hit the front 250m out for a one-length win in 1min 35.15sec on a yielding track.
"You know, he was the best horse in the race. That was all," said Purton. "I didn't expect him to show as much speed as he did early. I had to hold him and get him back. He was overracing a lttle bit. Once I got cover, he was nice and relaxed and he was just pulling me in the straight. He was just going too good. He felt the winner a long way out."
Then came the one that mattered most - the Kranji Mile, Singapore's richest race and the prelude to the return of the $3 million International race next year.
Riding Southern Legend, one of three foreign horses invited to compete and obviously the better of the two Hong Kong horses, it was sort of a formality for Purton with Southern Legend earning all the pre-race hype. Hence, the $10 favouritism.
A versatile sort who can lead or come from behind, Southern Legend burst to the front from his inner-most barrier. Although he was headed by Singapore's Maximus at one stage, Purton looked to have a lapful of horse underneath him.
That was evident when he released the brakes at the 400m mark, as Southern Legend tore away to win by three lengths in a swift 1min 33.79sec . Horse Of Fortune finished second for a Hong Kong quinella.
Rank-outsider Nova Strike finished third, earning a $100,000 bonus as the first Singapore horse past the post.
New Zealand's Ocean Emperor finished eighth.
"My horse wasn't overracing or travelling too fierce. I knew I was in a nice rhythm and, when I let him down at the 400m, I knew that he would be hard to beat," said Purton, who won the 2013 $3 millionSingapore Airlines International Cup (2,000m) on Military Attack and the $1 million KrisFlyer International Sprint on Aerovelocity in 2015.
Southern Legend gave trainer Caspar Fownes his fourth Group 1 success in Singapore, after his KrisFlyer wins with Green Birdie (2010) and Lucky Nine (2013 and 2014).
"It's always been fun coming here and I'm happy to get this result. He was the horse that was just starting to come to hand at the right time," said Fownes.