Zac Purton is hopeful Exultant can reprise a winning habit in the G3 Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (31 January) despite concerns Tony Cruz’s staying flagbearer’s elite qualities are in decline.
Triumphant in the past two editions of the Centenary Vase, Exultant’s hopes of a trio of consecutive successes in the race will rely partially on racing manners, according to reigning champion jockey Purton.
“I did notice at the back end of last season, he started to get aggressive in his races again and then this season he’s sort of carried that through and he’s becoming more and more aggressive all the time,” the Australian said.
“It could be a sign that he is tired, he is getting a little older and horses do that for a reason. He clearly hasn’t shown us his best form yet this season but he’s the type of horse who could turn it on anytime.”
Second in the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) to Ireland’s Mogul on 13 December, Exultant has not won since snaring the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) on 24 May, 2020.
A perennial benchmark in the Hong Kong staying ranks, Exultant has occupied the runners-up stall in three outings this season but will shoulder 133lbs under handicap conditions on Sunday.