Purton kicks home five and hits 900 winners
Hong Kong champion jockey now 12 clear of Karis Teetan in premiership table
Reigning Hong Kong champion jockey Zac Purton dominated the 11-race card at Sha Tin on Sunday.
He started the day needing five wins to reach 900 in Hong Kong and snagged Races 3, 4, 5 and 8, before hitting the milestone in the last aboard the John Moore-trained Taking Aim.
"I came to Hong Kong hoping to ride one win and here we are over a decade later with 900. It's very satisfying," he said.
Douglas Whyte is the rider with the most wins all-time - 1,809 and counting - but Purton is now eyeing the next in line, Tony Cruz's tally of 946.
"I've got him in my sights now," he said.
But the in-form Australian - now 12 winners clear of Karis Teetan at the top of the premiership - revealed that he was not expecting to reach 900 on Sunday.
"I came here thinking I had a pretty average book of rides. I thought if I had one I'd be happy, and here I am with five on the day. Sometimes you can't pick it," he said.
Trainer Dennis Yip provided his long-time ally with victories on Glenealy Generals, Hurricane Hunter and Racing Fighter, while trainer Caspar Fownes was the beneficiary of a strong Purton drive on the front-running Po Ching Treasure.
Racing Fighter took Purton to a tantalising 899th win in Race 8, the Class 3 Lukfook Jewellery Love Forever Collection Handicap over 1,200m.
The rider earned his fee with a rousing stretch drive that lifted the 5-1 chance to a short-head verdict over 25-1 shot Key Witness.
"This horse has ability but, when he joined my stable, he was still weak, so I've given him time to get his strength up a little bit," said Yip, of the stable transfer.
"I gave him more work and he's taken it step by step - he will stay 1,400m or a mile, he's not a 1,200m horse."
And, of his own form, he said, "I try hard."
Chipped in Purton with a grin: "The jockey is in very good form - I will try to give him more."
Whyte landed a brace, thanks to the Chris So-trained Invincible Missile in Race 2 and the grey gelding Monica, trained by John Moore, in Race 7.
Brazilian ace Silvestre de Sousa, one week on from a Group 1 brace at the Longines Hong Kong International Races the previous Sunday - and with the Longines International Jockeys' Challenge trophy sitting in his apartment - was at his powerful best to win on Pakistan Friend in Race 10, denying Purton and Green Luck by 11/4 lengths.
Jockey Derek Leung and trainer Manfred Man were on the mark in Race 6 with Ever Laugh, who wore down the Purton-ridden Romantic Chef close home. - HKJC