Columbus County struck a blow for Zac Purton and this year’s BMW Hong Kong Derby crop with a victory full of promise in the Class 2 Hong Kong Reunification Cup Handicap (1800m) at Sha Tin on Wednesday, 1 July.
Purton saw title rival Joao Moreira bag a brace that ate into his championship lead in the first half of the card, but hit back in the feature to hold an end-of-day advantage of 138 wins to the Brazilian’s 133.
“Zac and Joao both ride a lot of horses for me and I wish them both the best,” Columbus County’s trainer Caspar Fownes said. “Right now, Zac has the advantage, especially with Joao having a one-meeting suspension coming up next week, but Hong Kong racing is so tough that for both of them to get the number of winners they’ve achieved so far is incredible.
“I wish both of them the best; hopefully it can go down to the last day and may the best man win.”
Columbus County belatedly broke his Hong Kong maiden at the seventh attempt, having performed a shade disappointingly when ninth to Golden Sixty in the BMW Hong Kong Derby back in March. Fownes’ four-year-old is only the second horse out of the blue riband to have won a race subsequently, but both handler and rider hold positive expectations for the future.
“He’s typical of PPs (Privately Purchased horses) coming here on a high rating, they take a bit of time to acclimatize sometimes,” Purton noted.
“He didn’t quite measure up in the Derby but he had a nice little break and seems to have come back better. He still feels like hasn’t developed properly so I think there’s more there.”