Purton gains on absent Moreira ahead of FWD Champions Day
Zac Purton made sure he gained some benefit from Joao Moreira’s absence at Happy Valley on Wednesday (22 April) night with a double that took him to within one of his great rival at the top of the Hong Kong jockeys’ premiership.
Moreira bagged a three-timer last weekend but a one-meeting suspension forced him out of the evening’s action.
The running tally in the head-to-head stands at 104-103 going into a Group 1 showdown at Sha Tin on Sunday (26 April) when Purton will ride Beauty Generation against Moreira’s Waikuku in the FWD Champions Mile, Exultant against the Brazilian’s Time Warp in the FWD QEII Cup and Aethero in opposition to Hot King Prawn in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize.
Purton returned drenched and mud-spattered after the Caspar Fownes-trained Tangmere gave him his second win in section two of the Class 4 Marigold Handicap (1650m), the going having changed to good to yielding just prior thanks to incessant rain.
“The fast pace and wet track really helped this horse, it was a good effort,” he said of the Frankel five-year-old.
The three-time champion jockey kicked off his double in race two, section two of the Class 4 Jonquil Handicap (1200m), on the Richard Gibson-trained Hero Time.
“He did a good job. He had a tough run and it was a solid effort,” Purton said.
Moore’s Amigo makes it two
Purton was out of luck aboard 1.8 favourite Dancing Fighter (133lb) in the Class 3 Crocus Handicap (1200m). The Caspar Fownes-trained top-weight missed the break for the second time in as many starts and could only run on for third behind the Derek Leung-ridden Beauty Amigo (128lb).
A two-time Listed winner in Ireland, the Kodiac five-year-old relished the underfoot conditions to seal a double for trainer John Moore.
“He’s been a work in progress and when Derek got off him he said he just loved the ground – there was plenty of cushion in the track – and the fast pace enabled him to settle in behind and hit the line well,” Moore said.
Vagner Borges flew the gate and was never headed on Moore’s We The South in the Class 4 Iris Handicap (1000m). That gave the Brazilian his fourth Hong Kong win and first for the stable – the three-year-old gelding, a barrier trial ‘winner’ at the Gold Coast pre-import, returned at 28/1 for his first win at the fourth attempt.
“He’s been showing this great initial speed and he only needed two things: to settle in the pre-race parade and then to come back underneath the rider and find a rhythm. Borges was able to get him in that rhythm and he hit the line.
“He said to me he felt that if he could get him to the fence and cuddle him, he’d be able to kick and that’s what he did.”
Teetan strikes with Lightning
Karis Teetan teamed with Electric Lightning (118lb) for a win in section one of the Class 4 Marigold Handicap (1650m), two years after their last successful pairing. The Mauritian’s success on the six-year-old was his second this term for the David Ferraris stable.
“I felt like last time he was hitting the line pretty strongly for Derek (Leung), he came from a long way off and I just wanted to have him in a better position tonight and keep him rolling – that’s how I won on him before and it’s how Dougie (Whyte) won on him, just getting him going,” Teetan said.
Electric Lightning boxed to the lead and had to dig deep to repel the late charge of the top-weight King’s Man (130lb) under Neil Callan.
“All credit to David Ferraris, the horse was in good shape and I’m appreciative that I got to pick up the ride,” Teetan added.
Vincent Ho had to work hard for his 50th win of the campaign – the first half-century of his career. The rider drove the Tony Cruz-trained Happy Sebring (122lb) from off the pace to secure a battling length win over Vincy (122lb) in the Class 3 Heather Handicap (2200m).
Chad Schofield nailed another victory to maintain his run of at least one win at the last nine race meetings. Destine Jewellery became his 12th score in that stretch – the John Size-trained four-year-old opened his career account at the ninth try.
Ricky Yiu clocked up another win to aid his bid for a first trainer’s championship as Allied Agility (126lb) took the last race, the Class 3 Cornflower Handicap (1000m), to take him five clear at the top of the table.
Antoine Hamelin drove the four-year-old wide down the stands’ side rail to edge the Purton-ridden Larson (126lb) by a short-head. The Frenchman has bagged at least one win at each of his first four Hong Kong race meetings.
Jack Wong made use of the inside gate to lead from start to finish aboard Great Son (122lb) in the opening Class 5 Tulip Handicap (1200m). The Paul O’Sullivan-trained galloper did just enough to hold the challenge of Show Mission (117lb) by a short-head.
Wong took a spill and went to hospital for an examination after his mount Galaxy Emperor looked to have clipped heels in race six.
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday, 26 April with FWD Champions Day.