Zac Purton has always said it would be a difficult task for him to match Moreira’s single season record of 170 wins, and he will need everything to fall his way in the five remaining fixtures if he is to get there.
The champion jockey ended the night 18 wins shy of the target after partnering the consistent Saul’s Special (125lb) to a career best effort in the Class 2 Grass Island Handicap (1000m). Purton is now three from four on Michael Chang’s charge, who was well on top in the closing stages to score by two lengths over the dead-heating Speedy King (124lb) and Handsome Bo Bo (112lb).
“He surprised me, he was well clear and drawing away,” Chang said of the 4.6 winner. “I think this horse has improved a lot, especially mentally. When I put the saddle on him tonight he was very concentrated and focused for the race. You can see he’s much improved – the jockey came back and said to me that he sat and waited and was full of confidence, and once he asked him to go he just came and flew.”
Grant van Niekerk continued his good form with his 30th win of the term, a swooping run aboard the Danny Shum-trained 20/1 chance Most Beautiful in the Class 3 Lamma Island Handicap (1200m).
Neil Callan overcame a wide berth to win section two of the Class 4 Peng Chau Handicap (1650m) on Faithful Trinity for trainer Richard Gibson. The Irishman parked his mount prominently and drove the one-time Group 2 winner in Italy to a length and a quarter success.
High Rev broke his maiden at Sha Tin three days ago but failed by a head to follow-up tonight. Ben So had the David Hall-trained galloper charging late but the in-form Vincent Ho had first run on the Caspar Fownes-trained The Judge and sealed his 53rd win of the season.
Matthew Chadwick took the opener, the Class 4 Po Toi Handicap (1000m), atop the Ricky Yiu-trained Gentle Breeze. That ended a run of 60 rides without success, stretching back to 11 May, and raised his season’s tally to 20.