Clearing away from the pack, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Clearing away from the pack

Purton takes Hong Kong tally to 114 wins after sweet treble, with nine meetings left

HONG KONG - Zac Purton’s relentless push towards a seventh Hong Kong jockeys’ championship continued at Sha Tin on June 8 when the Australian snared a treble highlighted by a fifth successive victory on Copartner Prance in the Class 2 Lung Mun Road Handicap (1,200m).

Purton (114 wins) increased his lead in the 2023-24 championship over Karis Teetan (77) to 37 wins with only nine meetings remaining after victories on Copartner Prance for trainer Francis Lui, Dennis Yip’s Fast Network and Stunning Peach for Tony Cruz.

Copartner Prance improved his record to five wins from nine starts with a gripping win over Duke Wai and then survived an objection from the runner-up’s rider Teetan.

“It was another good effort. He began really well which helped – it was very fast mid-race – and I just waited for the right time but he was good to the line. He just seems to keep doing enough,” Purton said of the four-year-old son of Epaulette.

Copartner Prance’s victory left Lui and Pierre Ng tied on 61 wins at the top of the Hong Kong trainers’ championship, with Ng holding sway by virtue of more seconds – 48 to 46.

Purton and Yip – who combined to land the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2,000m) with Massive Sovereign in March – struck with debutant Fast Network in the Class 4 Chai Wai Road Handicap (1,000m).

A three-year-old by Wrote, the gelding was well supported on the strength of impressive trial performances.

“He trialled very good and also overseas, his trial was very good. I was watching the trial and I thought ‘we must buy this horse’,” said Yip.

“He’s done thejob. Hopefully, he will keep improving and I think, for the future, later he will stay longer. Right now, he’s just learning.”

Stunning Peach delivered the third leg of Purton’s treble with success in the Class 3 Pola Cup Handicap (1,800m).

The three-year-old was Group 1-placed in Ireland and France when he raced as Islandsinthestream for trainer Joseph O’Brien.

Purton was impressed with the Wootton Bassett colt’s Hong Kong breakthrough.

“It was good. He drew the right gate (barrier two) to have the right run and the tempo in the early and mid-stages set it up for him but he had to carry 135lb (61kg) and come with a long sweeping run.

“Although he came to the end of his run probably about 100m out, his class got him through. He’s heading in the right way and, as long as he keeps on taking those steps, we’ll be happy.”

Cruz registered his 50th win of the campaign when apprentice jockey Angus Chung piloted Beauty Glory to victory in the Class 3 Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road Handicap (1,400m).

Meanwhile, Hugh Bowman predicted a bright future for John Size-trained The Winnabe after the three-year-old Caravaggio grey maintained an unbeaten record after two starts with an impressive victory in the Class 4 Pok Fu Lam Public Riding School Handicap (1,200m).

“He was very professional, he’s shown us a nice bit of talent from the time we started working with him and he’s continued to progress,” Bowman said, after posting his 60th win of the season.

“It was a strong performance, he had to navigate a bit of a path and he did that with a sense of maturity, which is encouraging.

“What I liked the most is that when I got out after the leader, I then needed a second effort and he did it with ease – he’s got a bright future.”

Bowman sealed a double aboard Enjoy Golf for Frankie Lor in the Class 4 Lei Yue Public Riding School Handicap (1,400m).

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on June 12. HKJC