“Things just didn’t go right last time,” Purton said. “I’d only had one previous ride on him and that was on International day. On that day he was quiet as a lamb, he didn’t do anything wrong, so I didn’t expect he was going to play up in the gates, and to be honest he stood there very quietly until the gates opened, he just jumped in the air.”
That meant Time Warp missed the break and raced wide. The Archipenko gelding never found his rhythm and faded when questions were asked.
“He caught me completely unaware and once that happened he was just out of position,” the rider added. “Now that I’m aware of that and I’ve been able to ride him in a trial, changed a couple of things, hopefully we’ve rectified that and it won’t happen again.”
Purton enjoyed an untroubled ride in December but anticipates that his rivals will be wiser this time around.
“I don’t think they’re going to let him have it as easy out in front as what he had in December but I feel if they do put a bit of pressure on he should still be able to handle it anyway,” he said.
Cruz is unfazed by that possibility. “I don’t think any horse can get up there to bother him,” he said. “He’s the fastest around, he goes a fast pace in front, it’s not like he’s going slowly out in front, he’s galloping at a good speed.”
Purton, though, does fear Pakistan Star, especially after witnessing the Shamardal gelding’s recent trial in which he drew three and a half-lengths and more clear of Sunday’s rivals Werther and Seasons Bloom.
“I’ve always said I thought (Pakistan Star) was the best mile and a quarter horse we had here in Hong Kong,” he said. “Now that he’s had that break – that little bit of time off – he seems as if he’s furnished a little bit more, it might have actually been a good thing for him. The way he put Werther away in the trial the other day was quite scary. If he reproduces that then we may not be able to beat him anyway.”