Purton edges closer to Moreira record with Happy Valley treble

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Zac Purton continued a relentless march towards Joao Moreira's record of 170 wins in a single season with a treble at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, edging ever closer to the Brazilian's towering mark.

With 11 meetings left in the season, five-time Hong Kong champion Purton has 149 wins and, with a 69-win lead over (80) in the 2022/23 jockey championship, most interest now centres on whether the Australian can overhaul Moreira's mark, set in 2016/17.

Purton saluted on The Runner, Golden Luck and Seasons Wit to accelerate his charge towards history and remains steadfastly focused on Moreira's benchmark after taking his Hong Kong career tally to 1,580 – a figure currently bettered by 13-time champion 's 1,813 victories.

“It's not enough,” the Australian smiled after sealing his latest treble before praising Seasons Wit's performance.

“He was in a good barrier and he got out of the gates well enough to take advantage of it and stalked the speed and it all fell for him – he's only a young horse, he did a good job,” Purton said. “Jamie has done a good job with him.”

A three-year-old by Capitalist, Seasons Wit was having only his fifth start in Hong Kong after winning a Morphettville maiden in in 2022 as Eros when trained by .

Richards is confident the gelding can continue to improve.

“He's found his form, he's racing consistently and he was the beneficiary of a nice draw today. He stalked the horse to beat and got over the top of him late. He's a young horse on the way up and he's certainly racing very well,” Richards said.

“He is going to continue to improve next year as well, he's only a three-year-old, and I'm looking forward to the future with him. He's a nice, young sprinting horse.”

Purton was at his best atop Jimmy Ting-trained The Runner before teaming with Manfred Man's Golden Luck.

took training honours with a double with Circuit Elite and Superb Capitalist.

Circuit Elite (130lb) posted his third win over the course and distance with a dashing mid-race move to give Vincent Ho his 80th victory of the season before Superb Capitalist clung on for .

In the closest finish of the night, Gallant Crown fended off Beau Gosse by a nose to present Tony Millard with his sixth victory of the season.

Derek Leung, who gave Gallant Crown a perfect ride behind leaders M Unicorn and Fearless Fire, was uncertain if he had survived Beau Gosse's charge.

“50-50, at the winning post, but I knew I was still hanging in there,” Leung said. “The pace in the race was very fast and I went past the front-runners very easily and then I thought I was too early in getting to the front.

“But he's got a bit of class and stayed on well. It was a good win.”

David Hayes lauded after Lean Hero's slender win after the Maurice three-year-old emerged late from behind a wall of horses to snatch his second win in nine starts.

“It was a good effort by the horse but an even better effort by the jockey,” Hayes said. “It was a split-second decision by Hugh and he got out of trouble and was good enough to win the race – all credit to Hugh.

“The horse is only three, so he'll hopefully he'll come back as a good four-year-old.”

Douglas Whyte and Lyle Hewitson teamed successfully for the 15th time this season when blasted down the centre of the track after fanning wide on the turn.

“We've learned about the way he appreciates being ridden and he was ridden patiently tonight,” Whyte said. “The horse has been racing in a rich vein of form and he's now starting to enjoy the Hong Kong environment.”

Whyte has 36 wins for the season, while Hewitson continued his best Hong Kong campaign so far by piloting his 44th winner, while Michael Dee's facile ride on Circuit Splendor enabled Benno Yung's Hong Kong International Sale Graduate to break through.

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