Purton makes triumphant return
Exactly a month after suffering multiple injuries in a Sha Tin fall, Zac Purton notched his 50th victory of the new season, as the champion hoop revived hopes of a fifth jockeys’ crown with a successful return at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
Competing for the first time since Dec 12, Purton had to wait until the last of his seven rides – on the final event on the card – before trainer Francis Lui’s Cheerful Days gave the four-time Hong Kong champion his half-century milestone with victory in the Class 3 Lok Fu Handicap over 1,650m.
Sidelined for eight meetings with fractures in his right wrist, ribs and feet, Purton watched his 11-win lead over archrival Joao Moreira morph into a nine-win deficit. But he clawed one victory back at the city circuit to trail the Brazilian 58-50.
“I feel good, I feel better than I thought I would,” said Purton.
“Fitness-wise, I feel pretty good. Injury-wise, I feel pretty good. Once I got through that first race, I cleaned the wind out and I knew my wrist would hold up, so on we went.”
On his milestone, the 39-year-old observed it had materialised “probably a month slower than I would have liked, but we got there and, hopefully, there’s another 50-plus to come.” - HKJC