Racing

With Moreira suspended, Purton hopes to kick clear tonight

Jockey Zac Purton is hoping to make hay under the Sha Tin floodlights tonight, with arch-rival Joao Moreira sitting out the all-weather track fixture due to a riding suspension.

The star jockeys are inseparable on 123 wins for the season, in a gripping tussle for the Hong Kong premiership.

Purton has a full book of nine rides: Coolceleb, Virtus Star, Jade Theatre, Kings Shield, Handsome Rebel, Sunset Watch, Jade Fortune, Just Not Listening and Enfolding

With a 12 per cent win strike rate on the dirt track this term, against the absent Moreira's 24 per cent, he is hoping to do enough to edge into an outright lead.

"It's a good opportunity to do that, if I can," said the reigning champion. "The races on the dirt are never easy to win, especially at the night meetings. But, hopefully, a couple can pop up for me and help me. It would be nice to get something if I could."

Purton and Moreira have been neck and neck on the same win total over the past two race meetings.

After carving up the meat of the weekend action with four wins apiece, Purton admitted to some frustration that his bounty wasn't enough to shake off his rival.

"You ride four winners but you walk home feeling a little bit flat," he said. "If you'd ridden four and he'd ridden none, you'd walk home with a bit of a spring in your step. But it's competitive and that's the way it should be.

"We did a similar thing a couple of seasons back, when we went bang for bang throughout one of the meetings, so we've been there and done it before. So, hopefully, it's the same end result again."

HORSE RACING