The rivalry between Hong Kong’s two leading jockeys is set to continue next season after Douglas Whyte collected his thirteenth jockey’s premiership beating Zac Purton for the second successive year.
The top South African rider has made the Hong Kong racing scene his own, but Hong Kong based Australian jockey Purton is keen to change the standings.
White ended the season with one hundred and one winners while Purton was happy with his eighty-eight winners which included four Group 1 victories.
But Purton got the kettle boiling with recent comments, sparking an anticipated battle next season, after an interrupted season that saw him make several trips to hospital for an ongoing kidney problem.
“Game on. I stand by everything and I can’t wait for next season,” Purton said.
“Now that I’m over the kidney problems, I feel fantastic, the best I’ve felt in months and I’m dying to get back and do this all again.”
Purton has thrown the challenge out and is ready to back it up with some serious riding in the new season.
“It’s easy to win races in your own backyard [like Whyte] when the odds are stacked in your favour. I’m putting him on notice: now that he’s shot his mouth off, it’s motivated me to take him down in the new season,” Purton said.
“Without his good mate John Size, his championship run would have ended years ago.”
“The real test of a man’s mettle is on the world stage, and I’ve been highly successful whenever I’ve travelled.”
Purton is also proud of his achievements at international level with eight Group wins including wins in the Group 1 HK$20m Longines Hong Kong Mile (1600m), the Group 1 HK$6m The Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) and the Group 1 S$3m Singapore Airlines International Cup (2000m).
The talented jockey also won the World Super Jockey series in Japan in November and was also rewarded with a win at Royal Ascot on Hong Kong sprinter Little Bridge in the 2012 Group 1 £350,000 The King’s Stand Stakes (5 furlongs).
Whyte was also very satisfied with winning another title and wrote on twitter, “Thanks to all for the good wishes. Was an amazing way to finish off a great season by reaching the 100. Looking forward to my summer break.”
Australian jockey Brett Prebble also fared well finishing in fifth position with forty-two wins as well as a Melbourne Cup victory on Green Moon while Tommy Berry was able to rake up twenty-two wins in his short time riding on the world stage in Hong Kong.
In the training ranks, Dennis Yip was able to become the first local Chinese Hong Kong trainer to win the title with sixty-nine wins since his mentor Briabn Kan took the honours in 2001.
In a very tight premiership battle, Yip was able to scrap home by one win over Tony Cruz with last year’s title holder John Size in third spot with sixty-four wins.