HKIR: Zac Purton relishes weight loss journey for Aethero – ‘my body feels better’
Champion jockey Zac Purton insists he has more energy than ever as he enters the final week of his weight-loss journey to ride star three-year-old Aethero in his first Group One.
The Australian, who is currently suspended from racing, only recently returned from an overseas trip to Phuket where he said he ate only “starter” size meals and trained every day.
“I have been eating entrée or starter-size meals, they have been very small and I have been very hungry, I don’t remember the last time I was this hungry for this long,” Purton laughed.
“I feel fine, even though I have been hungry. I actually feel like I have plenty of energy, more than I normally would, so from that point of view things are fine.
“I trained every day when I was away, I watched my weight really closely, I made sure I was on getting on the scales every day and managing it like I need to.”
Usually riding at around 120 pounds, it has been almost eight years since Purton got himself down to ride at Aethero’s allotted featherweight of 117 pounds.
While he is yet to hit the magic number, he is certain he will reach the figure in time for race day, possibly even in time to declare the weight for Wednesday night’s International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley.
“I am on target, I am in a really good spot, I have no problems with the weight, I will make it,” he said.
“We are still a week out, you don’t want to peak too early, you won’t see a boxer get into the ring a week out from his fight bang on the weight.
“I will just tweak things a little bit more this week and continue what I am doing and we will get there.”
There is a fair incentive for the 36-year-old at the end of it all, with the winning jockey of the Hong Kong Sprint getting 10 per cent of the HK$11,400,000 first prize.
“Hopefully it is all worth it at the end of the day,” Purton said of his journey.
“Hopefully it is for the better, my body feels better to be honest, I feel really healthy.”
With a history of kidney stones, Purton revealed he had cut back on the amount of meat he was eating, which has helped him shed the extra weight.
“My diet is more of a plant-based diet these days anyway,” he said.
“A few years ago I would have been no chance of riding at this weight so because of the change of diet and the troubles I have had with my kidney stones as well I have constantly been tweaking and changing my diet.
“I think I have things pretty much bang on at the moment.”