Horse Racing
Zac Purton makes inroads into Joao Moreira’s gaping jockeys’ championship lead with a four-timer

By Leo Schlink
31/03/2021 23:59

Glorious Artist caps a quartet of wins for Zac Purton.
Glorious Artist caps a quartet of wins for Zac Purton.

Zac Purton’s pursuit of a fifth Hong Kong jockeys’ championship has continued with a Sha Tin quartet, capped by the success of Glorious Artist in the Class 2 Cuckoo Handicap (dirt, 1650m), as the Australia reduced Joao Moreira’s still imposing lead to 18.

With a dead-heat on Lucky Fun and outright victories aboard Hang’s Decision and Fairy Floss, Purton snared the evening’s feature on Frankie Lor’s Glorious Artist in the HK$2.2 million finale to post his 88th winner of the season.

Moreira, who has 106 wins, led the championship by 30 wins on 11 February.

“That’s four, so that’s nice – hopefully I could do that every meeting,” Purton said, praising Glorious Artist’s tenacity.

“The pace really suited us but we still had to do a lot of work from where we were. It was a tough, brave effort.

“Frankie was convinced I should have been on (stablemate) Kings Shield but I thought the race would be run at a fast speed and I was more partial to riding a horse that could close.

“He had a lighter weight and Kings Shield, well I wasn’t convinced he was in his best form.

Glorious Artist fends off the gritty Preciousship.

Alexis Badel posted his 100th Hong Kong winner when Magic Supreme clinched the Class 4 Robin Handicap (dirt, 1200m) for Manfred Man.

“It’s a nice feeling but I’m looking for 101 now,” the Frenchman said. “It’s a nice feeling to ride winners in Hong Kong, everyone knows that.

“You have to fight hard, it’s very competitive. It means a lot and I’m glad for the support I’ve had so far and hopefully there are going to be better times to come.”

Badel’s aspiration of further success was met the following race when, in a dramatic finish, his mount Sunset Watch (Francis Lui) dead-heated with Purton’s Lucky Fun (Danny Shum), with Moeraki (Matthew Chadwick for Michael Chang) only a short head away in third.

Sunset Watch and Lucky Fun dead-heat

Lucky Fun’s shared success was the third leg of Purton’s four-timer as an emotional Chris So hailed Hang’s Decision’s longevity and sustained competitiveness after the nine-year-old logged his 10th win in Hong Kong at his 80th start, taking his career earnings to HK$10.09 million.

Delivered late by Purton, the greybeard galloper’s victory in the Class 4 Sand Martin Handicap (dirt, 1650m) cemented the bond between the New Zealand import and So.

“In my first season in 2013/14, I went to the Karaka Sales in New Zealand and he was the first horse I picked and bought at those sales,” So beamed. “It’s amazing – he’s a very healthy horse. He doesn’t ever need an injection in a joint, he’s very sound.

“He’s so honest and you can’t believe what he’s done considering it’s so competitive in Hong Kong.

“He’s nine-years-old, he’s had 80 starts, he’s so honest – and now he’s won 10 million!”

Hang’s Decision had his first Hong Kong start on 14 June, 2015, finishing 13th in a Class 4 over 1200m.

Since then, he has developed into an incredible money-spinner for his connections, triumphing twice this season by narrow margins.

Bound for retirement at the end of next season, the veteran provided Purton with a race-to-race double.

The reigning champion rider, Purton successfully combined with Fairy Floss for Paul O’Sullivan in the Class 5 Tropicbird Handicap (dirt, 1800m) as the son of Guillotine posted his second win from 26 starts in Hong Kong.

Frankie Lor attributed All For St Paul’s fourth victory of the season – the latest in the Class 3 Parus Handicap (dirt, 1800m) – to maturity after Matthew Poon guided the Magnus gelding to a brave win.

“I think this season he is more mature, last season he was still learning,” Lor said. “He is much better in the mornings and I also sent him to Conghua, which is a good place for horses.

“He came back to Hong Kong from Conghua and has since looked much better.”

Little Thunder wins the opener under Karis Teetan.
Little Thunder wins the opener under Karis Teetan.

Karis Teetan enhanced his reputation as Hong Kong’s “King of the Dirt” with victory in the Class 5 Tern Handicap (dirt, 1200m) aboard Little Thunder for Tony Millard.

It was the Mauritian’s 11th win this season on the All Weather Track – two more than his nearest rival Purton.

“We purposely aimed this horse at this race and it worked out,” Millard said. “He ran very well last week and we backed him up and it worked out.”

Moreira drove Happy Tango to victory for Me Tsui in the Class 4 Robin Handicap (dirt, 1200m) after Michael Chang celebrated his fifth win of 2020/21 term when Ruan Maia piloted Gallant Legacy to success in the Class 4 Robin Handicap (dirt, 1200m).

Maia notched his third win in as many meetings with a perfectly executed ride.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Monday (5 April) with the running of the G2 Sprint Cup (1200m) and G2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m).