Zac Purton eyes more Sha Tin success after weekend four-timer

Zac Purton holds a 35-win lead in the Hong Kong jockeys’ championship.

Marching towards a seventh Hong Kong jockeys’ championship, Zac Purton hopes Triumphant Warrior can extend the Australian’s recent hot form when Danny Shum’s charge contests the second section of the Class 4 Hin Yiu Handicap (1200m) at Sha Tin’s eight-race all-dirt meeting on Wednesday night (29 May).

Leading the 2023/24 standings with 107 wins – 35 clear of nearest rival Karis Teetan (72) with only 13 meetings left in the season – Purton takes six rides tomorrow night before travelling to Japan to partner Ricky Yiu’s Voyage Bubble in the Group 1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Tokyo Racecourse on Sunday (2 June).

With four victories at Sha Tin on Sunday (26 May), Purton has 1,717 Hong Kong wins and requires 96 more wins to reach Douglas Whyte’s all-time record in the city of 1,813.

“I thought he (Triumphant Warrior) was a little bit disappointing last time, we put the hood on him because he over-raced badly the start before when the pace steadied and he took off and emptied out the last bit in a race that he probably could have won,” Purton said.

“Last time, we had the hood on, he had a perfect run, the tempo was good, he relaxed really nicely and he was a bit disappointing, so coming back to 1200 (metres) might be a bit more suitable after a few runs at a mile.

“The tempo should suit him a little bit better. He’s a bit of a slow maturing horse but when the penny drops with him, he’s going to be capable.”

While Shum and Purton will be allies on Wednesday night, they will be rivals in Tokyo on Sunday when Shum teams with James McDonald and Hong Kong champion Romantic Warrior in the Yasuda Kinen.

In the midst of another consistent season, Teetan hopes to extend his lead over third-placed Hugh Bowman (56 wins) when he partners Ricky Yiu-trained Adefill in the Class 2 Chun Shek Handicap (1650m).

“It’s nice to get back on him and it’s been a while since I’ve got on him. He comes with a weight (119lb) where I get a chance to ride him,” the Mauritian said.

“He’s a horse who’s at home on the all-weather, so he trials really good on it. Form-wise he’s going really well and he’s in good shape so I think in this small race he’s going to have his chance.

“Things didn’t go his way on his last start, he sort of got stuck behind some horses. I don’t think he really got his opportunity. He handled the track really well in his previous wins and he should be more competitive in Class 2. Let’s hope he does his best.

“Those small races are the most tactical races to ride in. Sometimes you think there’s a lot of speed on paper and you get out of the gates and they walk. It’s going to be a tricky race but it looks like there is a lot of pace, so we’ll just let our fella sit in the first half and give his best in the final 400m.”

Teetan also rides Sing Dragon (135lb) for Mark Newnham in the Class 3 Chung On Handicap (1200m), bidding for a fourth win in a row on the gelding.

“He’s done so well. Since I’ve got on him, he’s won those three times and I think he’s getting better all the time. Last time he just held on, but he had a big weight (129lb) to carry and he’s been progressing.

“It’s going to be interesting again and I don’t think the draw (gate 12) is going to be very helpful to him, but it depends how the track will run. Sometimes the outside gate can work in your favour and sometimes you can save some energy instead of rushing to get a position from an inside gate.

“I’ll just ride the horse that I think he is. He fights on and when the horse came to him last time, he actually kept fighting. He’s got a good spirit. He’s done well already and if he can pull one off again it will be really good.”

Sha Tin’s eight-race card starts on Wednesday night with the Class 2 Chun Shek Handicap (1650m) at 7.15pm HKT.

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