Packing Treadmill, Flagship Warrior set for Hong Kong Classic Mile showdown, Purton posts 1,500th Hong Kong win

Leo Schlink

24/12/2022 19:39

Packing Treadmill (inside) gives Dylan Mo his first win of the season.
Packing Treadmill (inside) gives Dylan Mo his first win of the season.

Packing Treadmill and Flagship Warrior are bound for a Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) clash next month after the pair’s impressive victories at Sha Tin on Saturday (24 December) as Zac Purton became only the second jockey to post 1,500 wins in Hong Kong.

Francis Lui, Packing Treadmill’s trainer, and David Hayes, Flagship Warrior’s handler, both outlined plans to head directly to the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Mile on 29 January after their charges produced classy wins as Purton joined Douglas Whyte (1,813 wins) in an exclusive riding club.

Lui said Packing Treadmill – triumphant in six of eight starts – continued to surprise him after replacement jockey Dylan Mo drove the Manhattan Rain gelding to victory in the Class 2 Poinsettia Handicap (1600m), narrowly denying Fantastic Treasure with a searing closing 400m sectional of 22.21s.

“I think the draw (barrier one) helped and horse has got a very good fighting heart. He will go straight to the (Hong Kong Classic) Mile because there aren’t any other races for him,” Lui said. “I think he just keeps improving. When he first came to me, even after the barrier trials and the first time he runs, I can see that he’s such a good horse.”

Mo, substituting for Hugh Bowman, said: “A big thanks to the trainer for giving me a chance and I just try to do my best. It’s hard to get an opportunity, so if you get an opportunity on a good horse, I always do my best.”

Flagship Warrior debuts in striking fashion.

Also parading impressive Four-Year-Old Classic Series credentials, Flagship Warrior (133lb) stormed from last under Karis Teetan after starting from barrier 14 to land the Class 3 Yan Chai Trophy Handicap (1200m), impressing Hayes in the process.

“They have to be special to do that first-up in Hong Kong, from barrier 14, coming from last with top weight to run a fast last sectional,” Hayes said. “He will probably go straight to the Hong Kong Classic Mile.”

Teetan, who snared a double, said: “David was very bullish about the horse. He’s got lots of ability. He’s a lovely horse. Today, not many horses would have done what’s done, so he’s got a bright future.”

Winner of the G3 Port Adelaide Guineas (1800m) at Morphettville in April when known as Harleymoven, Flagship Warrior clocked 22.43s over the final 400m to secure a HK$1 million PP Bonus.
Teetan earlier combined with Frankie Lor to guide Super Highway to his maiden success with victory in the Class 4 Erica Handicap (1200m).

Purton reached the 1,500-win milestone with victory aboard Benno Yung’s Handsome Twelve in the Class 3 Spruce Handicap (1650m, dirt) – 15 years after riding his first Hong Kong winner aboard Ricky Yiu’s Elfhelm at Happy Valley in September, 2007.

“It’s good to get to the milestone, of course, it’s a big number. It’s not easy to ride any winner here in Hong Kong. I’ve been very lucky. I appreciate all the support I’ve had from the owners and trainers,” Purton, 39, said.

Zac Purton continues his march towards a sixth Hong Kong jockeys’ title.
Zac Purton continues his march towards a sixth Hong Kong jockeys’ title.

“Without them giving me the opportunity, I certainly wouldn’t be able to get to where I am, but hopefully this is just another number on the way towards a bigger number towards the end of the season.”

Purton, who earlier prevailed on Marado for Pierre Ng in the Class 3 Pine Handicap (1400m), took 8,896 rides to reach 1,500, compared to Whyte’s 9,293.

Forerunner, a HK$3 million purchase at the 2022 Hong Kong International Sale, debuted in striking fashion to land the Class 4 Amaryllis Handicap (1400m) for Hugh Bowman and Yung.

By Almanzor, the three-year-old impressed Yung with his application.

“I think there’s a large future for him,” Yung said. “I think he’ll go further in time. He’s still not concentrating. He’s got a lot to learn, but today was a very good experience for him.”

Bowman was equally impressed: “He gave me a good feel, he was very straight-forward. He probably lacked a bit of confidence and a bit of physical strength, so there’s still good improvement with him. He’s certainly got an engine.”

Bowman quickly snared a double when drove Compassion Spirit into the clear late to clinch the Class 4 Hibiscus Handicap (1400m) for Manfred Man but he was sidelined after an accident which led to the Class 4 Holly Handicap (1650m, dirt) being declared void because of safety concerns.

Whyte jubilated in the transformation of Boys Party after the gelding broke through for his first win in the Class 5 Cedar Handicap (1600m) under Harry Bentley.

“Sometimes I get more satisfaction out of a Class 5 horses than a Class 1 or a Group race because it’s these horses who are limited in ability,” Whyte, the 13-time Hong Kong champion jockey, said. “It’s well exposed I’m the only person who gallops him. When he came to my stable, he was very keen and he did things upside down. He’s now one of the best horses that I enjoy riding. He’s really a transformed horse.

“He’s been a good doer since he joined my stable – he doesn’t leave an ounce of feed.”
Bentley sealed a brace when Caspar Fownes-trained Bright Kid proved too strong in the Class 4 Ivy Handicap (2000m).

“It’s a nice Christmas present, that’s for sure,” the Englishman said. “Obviously, I had a slow, few weeks and it’s been a frustrating so it’s really good to get a couple of wins on the board.”

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (28 December).

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