Zac Purton has conceded that Joao Moreira’s record of 170 wins in a season is likely beyond his reach but the champion jockey is certainly not easing down through the final four fixtures as he continues to stack up a mighty personal best.
The Australian ace has 156 wins on the board – 20 more than his previous best but 14 shy of the record – following another dazzling four-timer at Sha Tin on Sunday. He heads into Wednesday’s (3 July) Happy Valley fixture with a book of seven rides on the eight-race card.
Purton will climb back aboard Fat Turtle (120lb) in the night’s finale, the Class 2 Hoi Ha Handicap, in which Frankie Lor’s galloper – a 1600m winner in Australia – will stretch to 1650m for the first time, having raced exclusively at 1200m in Hong Kong. The rider was in the plate for the four-year-old’s debut victory back in March and has a record of that win plus one second placing on ‘The Turtle’, who steps out for a fifth time.
“It’s got to be a question mark, the 1650 (metres), especially given the gate (11) he’s drawn: he’s going to have to do work and it’s not going to be easy for him,” Purton said.
“I was hoping to draw low and get a nice soft run early on him but that’s not going to happen now. I suppose we’ll really get to see whether he can handle the distance or not.”
The rider noted, though, that the slower tempo of a mile race might be just what the Smart Missile gelding is in need of.
“We’ve been bustling him for a lot of speed in the sprint races and that’s taken a fair bit out of him, he’s been doing a good job to handle all that pressure early. At 1650, if he’s able to roll there more comfortably, maybe he can run it,” he said.