Zac Purton assesses his book for the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races
I’ve had quite a bit of success on this day in the past, and last year I was privileged to ride both Aerovelocity and Beauty Only to win two of the features. This year, I have a ride in each of the races and, a week out, I’m hopeful of another victory in 2017.
The one feature I haven’t won is the HK$25 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m), and this year I’ll be on Time Warp for Tony Cruz. He’s been running some terrific races. His run two back in the G3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse (1800m), when he set really fast fractions and was only just edged out by Nassa, was a really solid effort. Last time out in the G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m), he had a nice run behind the leader and he just got touched off by a Horse of the Year in Werther.
I know he’s going to be worse off at the weights with Werther, but if there’s not as much pressure up front, it may suit him more. He’s on the way up, he’s honest and I think he’ll run a cheeky race.
In the Jockey Club Cup, I was on Time Warp’s stablemate Gold Mount, who I will be riding in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m). That day, I got stuck behind another stablemate Doyeni from the 1000m, and he was dragging me back out of the race whilst the horses up front were starting to sneak away. It cost me my momentum at a crucial stage, Still, he got home the last 300m really well, he hit the line strongly and I think the extra distance will suit him. He’s racing well and he appears Hong Kong’s best chance in the Vase.
I did win the Vase for Hong Kong on Dominant in 2013 – he was the only horse since the turn of the century to win the race for the locals. Ability-wise, I think Dominant and Gold Mount are very similar. I think there’s no doubt that Gold Mount is capable of winning, but he needs the right barrier, the right tempo and the right run on the day – Dominant got all three of those things when he won it. If it all falls into place, hopefully he can deliver.
In the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m), I ride Beauty Only again, also for Tony, as we look to go back-to-back.
It’s been a different preparation this time around for Beauty Only. He went to Japan for the G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) in June, which meant that his summer break extended a bit longer – he was about two weeks behind where he was last year. So for him, he’s been a little behind the eight-ball throughout and he’s been struggling to get back up to the level that we want him at.
However, his last run in the G2 Jockey Club Mile (1600m), when he closed for fourth, showed he is getting there now. I still feel that December has come around just a little bit too quick for him, but his run the other day was good enough to tell us that he’s going to run well again.
The G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) sees me link up with the Japanese, where I will ride Once In A Moon for trainer Makoto Saito. She’s still lightly raced but she just continues to improve. Her last run was probably her best effort so far, she was able to lead them up in the G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) and hang on for third.
In the Sprint, she gets a little bit of a weight allowance against the males, which I think is some advantage. Outside of the top two sprinters in Hong Kong, there wasn’t much else so I’m happy to take the ride on her.
She has led in her recent races, but I’m not sure we will be able to do that – a lot will depend on what barrier we come up with. The Hong Kong horses seem to be a little bit sharper than the Japanese horses over the first 150 metres, so she’ll need to draw nicely to be able to take up a role like that over here.
Zac Purton ended Douglas Whyte's 13-season dominance with his first Hong Kong jockeys' championship in 2013/14 (112 wins). He raced to what was then the fastest 50 in Hong Kong history that season and became the second rider, after Whyte, to notch 100 wins in a season. Purton lost his title when second to Joao Moreira in 2014/15 with 95 wins. He started his career in Brisbane and was an apprentice sensation, winning the premiership there in 2003, and then moved on to Sydney where he was twice second in the premiership. Purton moved to Hong Kong in September, 2007. His major wins include the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2012 and five at the LONGINES HKIR. He notched his second Hong Kong century in 2016/17, ending the term with 107 wins.