Zac Purton to reunite with Voyage Bubble in Hong Kong Gold Cup

Voyage Bubble wins his first race under Zac Purton in 2022.

Zac Purton will bid for a fourth Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) win when the six-time Hong Kong champion jockey reunites with Voyage Bubble in the HK$13 million feature at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Previously successful in the race aboard Military Attack (2013), Time Warp (2018) and Exultant (2019), Purton takes his first ride on 2023 Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner Voyage Bubble since 2022, when the future Group 1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) victor finished second in a Class 3 race behind Buzzinga over 1200m.

Having piloted Voyage Bubble to the first of his six Hong Kong wins two years ago, Purton is looking forward to reacquainting himself with Ricky Yiu’s star this weekend against a field headed by middle distance champion Romantic Warrior.

“He (Voyage Bubble) is an exciting horse. He’s been our best four-year-old going into the five-year-olds. He hasn’t had many runs this season and he gets back to 2000 metres, where he won the Derby,” Purton said.

“He’s got a big task to tackle the great Romantic Warrior but he’s on the way up and he’s certainly worth riding and hopefully he can draw a nice gate and get a nice run.”

Five-time Group 1 winner Romantic Warrior headlines the entry for Sunday’s feature, which also includes Beauty Joy, Champion Dragon, Encountered, Five G Patch, Nimble Nimbus, Money Catcher, Senor Toba, Straight Arron and Sword Point.

A winner from 1200m to 2000m, Voyage Bubble has the unusual distinction of winning his six races under six different jockeys – Purton, Matthew Chadwick, Derek Leung, Jamie Kah, Alexis Badel and James McDonald.

Sydney-based McDonald, who returns to Hong Kong at the weekend for another Group 1 assignment, is committed to Romantic Warrior as the New Zealander searches for his fifth Group 1 victory on Danny Shum’s flagbearer, having previously scored twice in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m), Group 1 QEII Cup (2000m) and the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).

Karis Teetan, who won the 2022 BMW Hong Kong Derby on the Hong Kong International Sale graduate, was aboard the Acclamation gelding when he claimed the 2022 FWD QEII Cup.

Chasing his first Hong Kong Gold Cup victory, Yiu has also entered Nimble Nimbus, last-start winner of the G3 Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m) at Sha Tin on 4 February, when the consistent gelding downed seven of Sunday’s entrants – Five G Patch (second), Straight Arron (third), Champion Dragon (fifth), Encountered (eighth), Sword Point (tenth), Senor Toba (13th) and Money Catcher (14th).

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