Zac Purton baffled by IJC weight allocation: ‘they knew I could ride lighter’

Reigning Hong Kong champion jockey Zac Purton has questioned his weight allocation for the International Jockeys’ Championship after drawing a “disappointing” book of rides for Wednesday night’s four-leg series at Happy Valley.

Despite being well on his way to riding Aethero at 117 pounds in Sunday’s Longines Group One Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m), Purton’s minimum for the IJC was listed at 120 pounds.

That ruled him out of the chance to ride the in-form High Rev in the fourth leg of the IJC, a horse he has partnered to consecutive victories this season and was hoping to stay with, but will carry 119 pounds on Wednesday.

The computer-generated draw sees jockeys selected at random and then matched with the lowest-weighted horse remaining on the board that their weight allows them to ride.

While Purton would have liked to have been given the opportunity to land the ride on High Rev, he has been paired with the Tony Cruz-trained Brave Legend, who carries 121 pounds, while Karis Teetan teams up with High Rev.

“I’m not sure why the club didn’t put me down at a lower weight, they knew I could ride lighter so it’s disappointing from that aspect,” said Purton, adding that he wasn’t asked by the Jockey Club if he could ride lighter.

“And all season we’re allowed to ride two pounds over so I don’t understand why we can’t do it in this competition.”

Purton also questioned the format of the IJC and wondered if it could be done differently.

“In future years they should probably pick ping pong balls out of a barrel,” he said. “Karis has obviously got four strong winning chances, good luck to Karis, but I don’t know why it doesn’t get spread around a bit more in a competition like this.”

On top of Brave Legend, Purton will ride Peter Ho Leung’s Eptiwins and the Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained pair Thunder Stomp and Home Made, but it’s not a book of rides that fills him with any great confidence.

“If you look at the rides I’ve got, they’ve set me a task again,” Purton said. “It’s disappointing, you get yourself into a position to be in the competition and you get given the rides that you’re given – you just scratch your head and bang it against the wall.”

After winning the IJC in 2017, Purton failed to land a placing on any of his four rides in last year’s competition and the Australian hopes Eptiwins might be the horse that can take him back to the podium in the first leg of the series – a Class Four over 1,000m.

Eptiwins has placed once each at 1,000m and 1,200m from seven Sha Tin starts but is yet to grace the city track.

“He’s threatened to do something the whole time he’s been in Hong Kong, he hasn’t yet but he could surprise. He’s not hopeless,” Purton said.

Thunder Stomp enters the second leg of the IJC – a 1,650m Class Four – on the back of two ordinary performances since dropping back into the grade, but Purton has won on the horse before and knows his best is good enough to be competitive.

“Thunder Stomp is capable on his day, but [Brave Legend and Home Made] look like they’ve got a task ahead of them.”

Along with Purton and Teetan, the 12-strong IJC jockey’s ranks features Hong Kong-based Joao Moreira and Vincent Ho Chak-yiu, last year’s winner Silvestre de Sousa – who is here on a short-term contract – and global superstars Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore.

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