Zac Purton logs 100th winner of the season as David Hayes takes Happy Valley training honours
April 29, 2021, 10:33:31 AM
On a night of landmarks, Zac Purton won a century of races in a Hong Kong season for the sixth time, keeping his dreams of passing Joao Moreira in the jockeys' championship race for 2020/21 alive with a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday (28 April).
The Australian won his 100th race of the season on the David Hayes-trained Donc Je Suis in class record time in the Class 4 Kotewall Handicap (2200m).
Previously, the four-time champion jockey accomplished the feat in 2013/14, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19, and 2019/20.
Purton, 38, debuted in Hong Kong in the 2007/08 season and now has 1270 victories in the city, second only to 13-time champion Douglas Whyte (1813).
Purton was pleased to cross the century after earlier partnering Hayes-trained Red Majesty to victory in the second division of the Class 5 Lyttelton Handicap, trailing Joao Moreira 115-100 in the 2020/21 championship (1650m).
“It's the benchmark I strive for per season. When you get there, it draws a scene for you, doesn't it? “It means you've had a pretty respectable season,” Purton said of his 100th victory, before casting doubt about his ability to grab Moreira with 21 meetings remaining in the season.
“I have a long way to go; we're out of meetings.”
Purton reached the landmark on his 550th ride of the season.
Moreira won the Class 3 Breezy Handicap (1650m) with Tony Cruz's Helene Wisdom Star, giving him a big lead going into the final three months of the season.
“Zac is just one of the classiest riders you'll ever see,” said Hayes, who has eight wins in April and 22 for the season. He's simply world-class. Year after year, he demonstrates this. He takes snap calls, which is why he rides so many winners.”
Hayes predicted Donc Je Suis would be a "much better four-year-old, particularly over distance," as he reveled in the stable's scorching run.
“He had been jumping from the barriers badly, and we had a little Purton magic, so it was a decent result,” Hayes said. “The young horses are acclimating, and I have a couple of them.
“I'm looking to finish the season with a win total in the mid-30s, and that's where I hope I'll be.”
Hayes is optimistic about Red Majesty's chances after his slim victory gave him his first Hong Kong victory.
“When I first arrived in Hong Kong, I thought he would be a very good PPG (Privately Purchased Griffin), but he's been very disappointing for the owners, though I don't think he would be going forward,” Hayes said.
“They don't always have overnight results, just like a lot of young horses. This horse needed ten runs before he found his style. Hopefully, he'll be able to keep on track now.
“I believe he will win in Class 4 now that he is running properly.”
Antoine Hamelin powered Family Folks to victory in the first segment of the Class 4 Conduit Handicap, making Michael Chang his 300th Hong Kong champion (1200m).
“It was going to arrive one day,” Chang, who began training in 2005/06, said. “I'm overjoyed to have won with this horse for the trainer, who has been very supportive of me since I began training 15 years ago – Very faithful.
With six wins on the season, Chang remains confident that his stable will be able to shoot before the season's end in mid-July.
“I've got a couple nice ones on the way. “I'm not going to panic; I'm just going to do my best,” he added. “To be honest, I don't have much of an argument because I train a lot of sluggish horses.
“I have some young horses – about eight horses coming next season,” she says. You have to be very cautious when selecting the horses that come to Hong Kong because it is a very tough market. You must choose healthy horses.”
Derek Leung drove Swot Troopers Wind to a narrow victory over Chad Schofield and Manna From Heaven in the first segment of the Class 5 Lyttelton Handicap, giving David Hall his 24th winner of the season (1650m).
In the second segment of the Class 4 Conduit Handicap, Leung completed a double on Hero Star for Manfred Man, capping off an outstanding season (1200m). Leung's 35th win of the war.
Vincent Ho completed a memorable FWD Champions Day treble by winning the Class 4 Hatton Handicap (1650m) on Frankie Lor's Fa Fa, before Alfred Chan coaxed the best out of Caspar Fownes-trained Snap Fit in the Class 3 Bonham Handicap (1200m).
In steady storm, Me Tsui and Matthew Chadwick won the Class 3 Babington Handicap (1000m) with Harmony And Rich.
The G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap will be run this Sunday (2 May) at Sha Tin in Hong Kong (2400m).