Purton sets his sights towards a new high

Zac Purton
Zac Purton has enjoyed a good partnership this term with the Moore stable.

Zac Purton has a personal best in his sights as he heads into Wednesday’s (15 May ) Happy Valley fixture, the 72nd of Hong Kong’s 87-meeting campaign.

The Australian ace is one of only three riders to have topped the century mark in Hong Kong (along with Douglas Whyte and Joao Moreira) and currently sits clear of the pack on 118 wins. That tally is 18 shy of the personal best 136 he notched when claiming a second premiership last term.

“I’m just aiming to try and ride as many winners as I can and in the position I’m in now I suppose I’d be a little bit disappointed if I didn’t get to that mark again,” he said at Sha Tin this morning, Tuesday, 14 May.

“I’m hoping to better that and momentum is the key: getting on the right horses is important and that will dictate what number I get to.”

Purton has a book of six rides on the eight-race card and will side with the John Moore-trained Magic Legend (128lb) in the Class 3 Le French May Trophy Handicap (1000m). Jockey and trainer have paired for 20 wins so far this term and are on a roll of four consecutive wins together.

Moore believes his four-time winner is well-positioned to continue the sequence.

“I think Magic Legend has reached a mark where he should be very competitive and he showed it last time off a mark of 74,” he said.

The five-year-old is now one-point higher for running three quarters of a length second to Yee Cheong Baby over the track and trip last time. The bay has not won since April 2017, having risen to G3 level and a mark of 108 at his peak.

“He got to the line very strongly last time; he closed off and broke 23 seconds when most of the others didn’t, so that means he’s hopefully hit a purple patch of form. But that’s because he’s had a serious ratings drop over the last season and a half from a mark of over 100.

“But he showed that bit of spark last time so if he can repeat that run he should be winning this sort of race. He’s drawn very well (gate 3) and he’s done everything right coming into it so he should be a contender for this race.”

Moore and Purton teamed up this morning as standout two-year-old Aethero went through his paces in a barrier trial ahead of an expected start in a Griffin contest at the end of the month. The big chestnut led and was easily clear of his fellow triallists at the line but did not seem to relish the dirt surface.

“He hates that (dirt), he really does!” Moore said. “He’ll run on the 26th in the Griffin race.

“He’s only a two-year-old so he’s not the finished product, of course. He’s not that great in the gates – he missed the start a bit because he does have the fidgets in the gate so we need to work on that. He can get away with that against Griffins but he won’t be able to against better opposition in handicaps.