Australian jockey Zac Purton capped off the biggest week of his riding career with a treble at Sha Tin which took him to his highest Hong Kong tally since he began riding there five years ago.
Purton returned to his Hong Kong base after scoring a memorable victory for trainer Danny Shum on Little Bridge in the Group 1 £350,000 The King’s Stand Stakes (5 furlongs) on the opening day of Royal Ascot to chalk up his fifty-sixth winner and record his best ever Hong Kong season.
“A fantastic end to what’s been a fantastic week,” Purton said.
“Amazing. I think I’ve got to the point now where people are thinking of me more when it comes to giving me a chance on these sorts of top horses in the bigger races, and I’m getting results, so hopefully that’s going to spill over into the Group Ones next season.”
Purton teamed up with Shum again early in proceedings on Sunday and scored on Africa Light in the 1400m Class 4 and wrapped up the day with a late double for trainer Dennis Yip on Groovy in the 1600m Class 3 and Winning Leader in the 1400m Class 3.
Purton’s association with Yip this season has been a huge factor in the young jockey achieving his best figures since arriving in Hong Kong and he is a clear third on the jockey’s table just two wins behind fellow Australian rider Brett Prebble (58) with both jockeys no hope of catching runaway leader Douglas Whyte who has an unbeatable lead with 103 wins for the season.
Yip and Purton have combined fifty-three times with eleven wins and Purton has found the key to Sunday’s winner, former barrier rouge Groovy.
Groovy had a reputation of being slow to jump before Purton took over the reins mid season and scored twice on the five year old at Happy Valley but was surprised when he was able to win in the tougher Sha Tin company.
“He had been starting to miss it again lately, so Dennis asked me to jump on and he jumped straight outside the leader,” Purton said.
“It was a bit of a surprise, I guess. He didn’t have any form at Sha Tin but he’d been racing here back in the days when he was missing the start and over racing. He was very comfortable sitting outside a leader and I got a shock when I looked and saw that he was four lengths in front halfway up the straight.”
Purton is riding on a high and admitted that it took some time for the enormity of the King’s Stand win on Little Bridge to take effort.
“Because I didn’t have a ride for the rest of the day, I was just doing interview after interview once the presentation was over,” Purton said.
“I must have done 30 television interviews and it took me ages to get back to the jockeys’ room. I didn’t realise how big a deal it was until then and it has been non-stop ever since with phone calls and texts.”