Zac Purton mowed down Douglas Whyte’s all-time Hong Kong prize-money mark on Sunday but it’s another of the legendary South African’s records that interests the star Australian most.
With his victory aboard the Tony Cruz-trained Beauty Joy in the Sha Tin finale, Purton moved to HK$1,588,025,566 in total stakes to sail past Whyte’s HK$1,587,210,086, while Joao Moreira sits third on HK$1,424,345,583.
Purton needed 472 fewer winners than Whyte’s 1,813 to amass his bounty and acknowledged the uneven playing field between the pair.
“It’s another nice milestone to hit. It’s another nice record to put on the CV, it feels good but there’s still work to do,” he said.
“Since I’ve been in Hong Kong, and that’s been nearly a decade and a half now, prize money has gone up about 3-5 per cent every season, so we’re obviously racing for a lot more money these days.
“I’ve been very lucky in my time here that I’ve ridden a lot of good horses, I’ve won a lot of big races and they obviously help towards to the total.”
Brushing aside murmurings from some quarters that this season could be his last in Hong Kong, Purton – who has 1,341 victories to his name – again suggested that targeting Whyte’s record win tally remains an option.
“I think that’s a bit premature. I’ll be here next season,” Purton said. “1,800 wins is gettable. By the time I get to the end of this season, I should be at 1,400 and it’s not too far away from there. It gives me something to think about, anyhow.”
Purton’s victory aboard Beauty Joy in the Class Three Tourmaline Handicap (1,400m) was the second of a double after he also delivered the goods atop Benno Yung Tin-pang’s Millennium Falcon in the Class Four Onyx Handicap (1,400m).
The double moves Purton to 46 wins for the season and stretches his lead at the top of the jockeys’ premiership back to double figures after reigning champion Joao Moreira went winless.
Moreira had narrowed Purton’s ascendancy with consecutive trebles heading into the meeting but finds himself trailing by 10 after a luckless day where he had to endure five seconds.
Size still in sizzling form
John Size has stormed into second place on the championship table on the back of another treble, continuing his brilliant form to make it abundantly clear he will be a title threat again.
The Australian Hall of Fame handler already has 11 championships to his name and a 12th would break his tie with George Moore for the most in Hong Kong racing history.
Size has had 15 winners since the start of November and is now tied with Cruz on 19, the two trailing runaway leader Frankie Lor Fu-chuen by seven.
The 67-year-old kicked off his day with Amazing Teens in the opener before Country Boy claimed the third and then Sight Success took out the feature, the Class Two Carbine Club Of Hong Kong 30th Anniversary Cup (1,200m) on the all-weather track.
“The horses are running well. The cooler weather, they appreciate that I suppose,” Size said.
Sight Success is racing in terrific form, rattling off his third win from his past four starts and proving equally adept on the dirt as the turf.
“He’s versatile. He’s going well. He’ll be rated over 100 now and things will get more difficult but he’s in great form,” Size said. “You never know, he might win another one.”
The victories of Amazing Teens and Sight Success continued the blossoming bromance between Size and Brazilian Vagner Borges, who have now combined for six winners this campaign from just 28 rides.
“It’s fantastic to ride a double and I’m very grateful to be able to ride for Mr Size. The support is great,” Borges said.
Jockey Matthew Poon and trainer Michael Chang celebrate Speed Force’s victory.
Chang chugs along
Michael Chang Chun-wai continued his solid form thanks to the victory of Speed Force in the Class Five Jasper Handicap (1,650m) on the all-weather track, with the veteran’s second winner in as many meetings moving him to six victories for the term.
After receiving a strike after managing only nine wins last season, Chang has already reeled off two-thirds of that tally after just 25 of the 88 meetings and things are looking much brighter.
It was also a welcome victory for Speed Force, who broke his maiden at start 22 after travelling box-seat under Matthew Poon Ming-fai and pulling away to salute by a length and three-quarters from Crown Avenue.
On a dirt track favouring on pace-runners, Poon struck again later on the card with a front-running ride aboard Lor’s Infinite Power.
The six-year-old was never headed on his way to victory in the Class Three Peridot Handicap (1,650m) and now has three wins from five starts this season.
Peter Ho Leung was the other trainer to be hit with a strike last season and he was also in on the act on Sunday, taking out the Class Five Aquamarine Handicap (1,200m) with Chunghwa Jingshen to move to four victories for the term.
Unwanted by punters at $37, Chunghwa Jingshen was another to lead throughout on the all-weather track thanks to a confident ride from Dylan Mo Hin-tung.
Apprentice Chung keeps progressing
Angus Chung Yik-lai is a name Hong Kong punters will get to know in the coming years, with the Jockey Club apprentice taking the next step in his fledgling career after notching his first metropolitan victories in Australia on Saturday.
The 25-year-old piloted Our Deep Agenda and Annika to victory at Morphettville, to take his overall tally to 36 winners.
Chung is refining his skills with the Racing South Australia Apprentice Academy, continuing a partnership that has helped the likes of Poon, Victor Wong Chun, Alfred Chan Ka-hei and Jerry Chau Chun-lok progress through to the Hong Kong riding ranks.
If Chung continues his development, officials expect he will follow in their footsteps.
“My time in Adelaide and with the Apprentice Academy has been fantastic. There are many senior jockeys here who help with advice after races, they provide me with very good feedback which helps me to improve quickly,” Chung said.
“I’m just focused on getting the horses in the right position to get the best result.”