Three cheers to Purton, Fownes and Wong
Night of milestones at Happy Valley in Hong Kong
It was all about milestones at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, as jockey Zac Purton hit a century for the season, trainer Caspar Fownes notched his 400th win at the city track and apprentice Jack Wong reduced his claim to 5lb (2.27kg) with his 45th winner.
Purton brought up his hundred in the night's opener, sauntering across the winning line on the Fownes-trained PREMIUM CHAMPION - Happy Valley win No. 399 for the handler. It was the rider's second triple-digit return, having reached 112 when sealing the championship back in 2014.
"It's hard for anyone to get to 100 winners," said the Australian. "The stats tell you that, so to get to 100 again is very pleasing, it means I've had good support from trainers and owners and things have gone well. Hopefully next season will be the same."
Purton is one of only three riders to have reached a century in Hong Kong, 13-time champion Douglas Whyte and current standout Joao Moreira being the others. Moreira remained two shy of last season's record 168- haul after a blank evening.
Two races after Premium Champion's two-and-a-half-length score at odds of 4.2, Purton clicked to No. 101 on the Dennis Yip-trained GOOD CHOICE.
The former champion jockey made it three on the night aboard the Benno Yung-trained FORTUNE BO BO in Race 5.
Apprentice Matthew Poon, who will be riding in Kranji for two weeks during the coming Hong Kong off-season, steered GRACE HEART to victory in Race 4 to give Fownes, renowned as the "King of the Valley", his 400th Happy Valley success.
"I love this track," the handler said. "I've had a lot of fun here over the years, so I'm really happy to get 400, it's a good landmark to hit and I look forward to getting 500 in the next couple of years."
Poon's fellow apprentice, Wong, was on the mark in Race 6 with OUTLAWED for his milepost 45th Hong Kong success.