Purton kicked off the day with an impressive win on Aethero, trainer John Moore’s exciting juvenile.
While the jockeys’ premiership is all but done and dusted, Moore did all he could to set the trainers’ title race on fire. Hong Kong’s seven-time champion charged up and grabbed a fistful of defending champion John Size’s coat tails but the latter pocketed three wins of his own to shake him off and hold a 67-60 lead at end of play.
Aethero had already notched a cruising win at 1000m heading into the card’s opening contest. If anything, the big chestnut’s first race around the turn was even easier: by the time he reached the end of the 1200m run, the Australian-bred was decelerating to a casual lope and Purton was getting a sore neck from glancing back into the distance to spot a challenger.
“Zac came back and was full of praise for him, he said this is very good, so he’s giving him the right feel. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, it’s stage by stage, he’s still got to make his way right to the big time,” Moore said.
“We’ll take it race by race and we’ll see how he handles it. He doesn’t carry a lot of weight over those legs – he’s got that great athletic look about him.”
The Sebring gelding was only up against fellow Griffins in the Liberator Plate, five of which were debutants, but that detracted little from an imposing victory that oozed quality.
“That’s about as good as it gets (in a Griffin race), so we’ll look for a Class 3 now because he’s going to go up to a rating of 74 or 76 or something – (the handicapper) is going to hammer him, but it’s to be expected,” Moore said.
Thanks Forever is a year older than Aethero but the Duporth gelding was making only his second career start, having gone almost a full year since an impressive winning debut.
It was worth the wait. The three-year-old showed gears under Purton as he brushed off the speedy and hitherto unbeaten Voyage Warrior by three and a quarter lengths in the Class 3 Werther Handicap (1000m).
Purton was on the mark again for Moore when Touch Of Luck landed the Class 4 Packing Winner Handicap (1600m) and wrapped up his six-timer in race 10 aboard the Dennis Yip-trained Splendour And Gold.
James McDonald did the driving on the Moore-trained Monica to win the Class 4 Mr Medici Handicap (1400m).
Former champion jockey Moreira bagged a fine four-timer. His first three wins came on the Size-trained Shining Ace and Aerohappiness, and the Michael Chang-trained Surewin.
The Size-trained Hezthewonforus (121lb) wrapped things up with a thrilling win in the last, the Class 2 Viva Pataca Handicap (1400m). The Brazilian judged his ride to perfection, kicking for home at the top of the straight and repelling the rattling late drive of Fast Most Furious (120lb) to ensure he remained the only rider in Hong Kong history to ride more than six winners in one day. Moreira holds the record at eight.
That win also brought up an impressive milestone for 10-time champion trainer Size, being his 1,200th Hong Kong win.