Joao Moreira’s title lead slashed again after another Zac Purton masterclass at Happy Valley
Another Happy Valley meeting and another Zac Purton masterclass.
Just four days after riding a fantastic five-timer, a further four wins took Purton’s tally for the week to nine as he continues to close in on jockeys’ championship leader Joao Moreira, with the lead now down to single figures.
The Aussie top gun struck twice for trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai on Wednesday night and after Party Warrior saluted in the Class Three Kowloon Park Handicap (1,200m), the trainer was left in no doubt as to how important Purton is to his yard.
“He’s a champion, he’s a good help for me,” Lui said. “It also helped to have a good draw [barrier one] with this horse. It’s good to win.”
The most impressive of Purton’s four-winner haul was newcomer Lucky Sweynesse, who won at the first time of asking in the first section of the Class Four Penfold Park Handicap (1,200m).
Purton was impressed with Manfred Man Ka-leung’s runner, who showed a good turn of foot inside the final 300m to win by two and a half lengths.
“He was a little bit slow to step but the good barrier [gate four] helped him and he was able to muster through and get a good spot,” Purton said.
“They really backed the speed off coming down The Rock, so it got messy for a little bit, but
once he got clear he really accelerated well.”
Purton started his night with a bang when the Lui-trained Stoltz recorded another stylish victory when winning the Class Three Hong Kong Park Handicap (1,000m).
In what was round four of the Stoltz v Special M match-up, Stoltz drew level at two apiece but their rivalry is at an end at least for now with the winner headed into Class Two company.
Lui was pleased with the performance of his four-year-old, who was recording back-to-back wins.
“He goes to up to Class Two now,” Lui said. “I’d prefer to keep him here at Happy Valley first but it will depend on the programme. Zac says he has improved a little and he’s getting more mature.”
Purton was also successful aboard Dragon Pride, who held on gamely from the fast-finishing Diamond Star to capture the Class Five Kowloon Tsai Park Handicap (1,650m).
Lui was not the only trainer with a double on the Valley card as Ricky Yiu Poon-fai struck with Off The Reel in the Class Four Morse Park Handicap (1,800m) and Loriz in section three of the Penfold Park Handicap.
Off The Reel made it three wins from four runs when overcoming a difficult draw in stall 12 and the trainer thinks there could still be more to come.
“He’s a slow-maturing stayer and I think he’ll be better over even further,” Yiu said. “I think 2,000m won’t be a problem.”
Yiu was successful again just half an hour later as Loriz landed his fourth course-and-distance win.
Showing his customary gate speed, Loriz was winning for the first time since May 2020 under Antoine Hamelin.
“I love this horse.” Hamelin said. “He’s very fast at the start, which is important, and now he keeps fighting. He hit the line today very well and I’m very happy with him.”
The French jockey has now ridden eight winners this season and was delighted to be saluting again after drawing a blank in the past seven meetings.
“I’m just happy to win. If you get a good ride in your hand, you can do something good,” he said.
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