Surging towards a sixth Hong Kong Jockeys’ Championship, Zac Purton posted 100 wins in a season for the eighth time in an increasingly decorated career before confirming Joao Moreira’s record of 170 wins in a season remained a target after victory aboard A Americ Te Specso at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
Since arriving in Hong Kong for the 2007/08 season, Purton had ridden 100 winners or more in season on seven previous occasions – 112 in 2013/14, 107 in 2016/17, 136 in 2017/18, 168 in 2018/19, 147 in 2019/20, 125 in 2020/21 and 136 in 2021/20.
Leading the 2022/23 jockeys’ championship by 51 wins from Vincent Ho (50), Purton reached triple figures for the seventh consecutive season with a facile display on John Size-trained A Americ Te Specso in the first section of the Class 4 Shek Kip Mei Handicap (1200m) at his 401st ride of the season.
“At the start of every season, the goal is to get to 100 winners. Only three jockeys in history (Douglas Whyte, Joao Moreira and Purton) have ridden 100 winners in a season in Hong Kong, so if you can get to there, you should be competitive enough in the Championship,” Purton said.
“It’s a fairly safe mark, I feel like it’s the mark of a good season and now obviously I try to push the bar higher. If I can get record (170), I’ll go for it but a few of the stables I’m riding for are a little bit flat on me at the moment, so I can’t build the momentum and it’s a bit frustrating.
“I feel like I’m treading water a little bit, but I’ll just keep turning up.”
Purton’s pursuit of Moreira’s record continued when Jamie Richards-trained Hoss over-powered his rivals to land the second section of the Class 4 Shek Kip Mei Handicap, leaving the 40-year-old Australian with 1,532 Hong Kong wins, second only to 13-time champion Douglas Whyte’s 1,813.
A son of Per Incanto, A Americ Te Specso prevailed at his seventh appearance for Size.
“He’s been a little bit unlucky a couple of times but, of course, today he just had all of the favours. He was (rated) 49 tonight, so he still has another run in Class 4 – he can’t do much more than what he has done,” the 11-time champion trainer said.
Size increased his lead at the top of the current championship to seven wins over Frankie Lor – 41-34 – with a double after Howdeepisyourlove, a talented three-year-old by Deep Field, blitzed the opposition to snare the Class 3 Nam Shan Handicap (1200m) under Karis Teetan.
An enterprising ride by Luke Ferraris was pivotal in Our Creed’s breakthrough victory in the Class 5 Un Chau Handicap (1650m) for Jimmy Ting.
“There didn’t look like there would be much speed in the race and he’s a bit of a one-paced type, but he travelled strongly around the bend and instead of waiting for the straight, I decided to pinch a few lengths on them and he’s won nicely and well done to Jimmy Ting,” the young South African said on posting his 16th win of the term.
Ferraris’ compatriot Lyle Hewitson posted his 25th victory of the campaign with Hk Dragon’s success in the Class 4 So Uk Handicap (1650m) for Douglas Whyte before combining with David Hayes atop Snowalot in the third section of the Class 4 Shek Kip Mei Handicap (1200m) to seal a brace.
Hayes later clinched a double when Karis Teetan prevailed on the adaptable Star Contact in the Class 3 Pak Tin Handicap (1650m).
Silvestre de Sousa’s vigor aboard Reach Goal was instrumental in Class 4 Tai Hang Tung Handicap success for Ricky Yiu before Caspar Fownes-trained Atomic Force claimed a HK$1 million PP Bonus for victory in the Class 3 Chak On Handicap (1000m) under Harry Bentley.