Purton kicks to three-win lead
Reigning champion has nine rides at Sha Tin on Sunday, arch-rival Moreira has a full book of 11
Zac Purton will start Sunday's 11-race Sha Tin card with a precious three-win lead over Joao Moreira in the jockeys' premiership, after snaring a treble on Wednesday night.
However, the Australian will have two rides fewer - nine to his arch rival's full book of 11.
On Wednesday night, Purton made the ideal start to the all-weather (dirt) track fixture, as he sought to gain the upper hand over Moreira, who sat out the meeting due to suspension.
He was level with the Brazilian on 123 wins and got the early break on Coolceleb in the opener, section three of the Class 4 Shearwater Handicap over 1,200m.
The Benno Yung-trained four-year-old enjoyed an uncontested lead to score by 33/4 lengths.
The reigning champion's double came in Race 4 - aboard Kings Shield, who routed his rivals in the Class 2 Egret Handicap over 1,650m.
The former British-trained import has given his handler Frankie Lor a puzzle to crack, though.
The 90-rated galloper will climb high in the handicap for his latest success.
With high quality dirt-track races being scarce in Hong Kong, Lor may have to look overseas for a suitable option at a time when international travel is uncertain.
"We might run him one more time this season and then there are no more options," said Lor.
"I'll have to talk to the owner but maybe (South) Korea is a possibility for the dirt race there (the Korea Cup).
"Then we might look ahead to Dubai next year, if he shows us that he's good enough. But, with the coronavirus, we just don't know yet if we can go anywhere or not."
Purton made it treble with a well-judged, galvanising drive aboard Enfolding to overhaul Touch Of Luck in the final stride of the last race, the Class 3 Peacock Handicap over 1,650m.