Zac Purton will be aboard his great ally Exultant when the champion stayer steps out under top-weight in the Group 3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse Handicap 11 days from now. The five-year-old is on course for a defence of the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) which he won last year in a thrilling duel with Japan’s Lys Gracieux.
“I’m very happy with him, everything is going according to plan and he’ll go for the Vase in December,” trainer Tony Cruz said.
Purton guided Exultant through a six-runner 1200m dirt track trial this morning, the Teofilo gelding’s second of the term. The outstanding stayer was tapped for toe at the top of the lane but boxed on with no shortage of enthusiasm to place fifth, a length and three-quarters behind stablemate Time Warp.
“He trialled well,” Purton said. “As time has gone on he’s just become a more professional horse – he’s better in the gates, he’s better when he jumps out of the gates. Because he jumped so well, even though he was wide, I wasn’t going to drag him back, he needs to get the miles into the legs anyway.
“I was happy just to let him roll, keep a rhythm, and once again over this short distance he was outsprinted when we turned for home but he does his best work late, which is what we want and he was good through the line.”
The rider sees Exultant’s planned first assignment as being a difficult one but is confident his mount will run to form.
“He’s going well,” he said. “He’s got a long season ahead: it’s only the beginning of his campaign and he’s going to have to carry top-weight and give a lot of weight away to some nice horses down the bottom that have already had runs so it’s a hard task for him first time out but he’s honest – he’ll give me everything he can.”