Former Brisbane boy Zac Purton cemented his place among the top international jockeys when he rode Little Bridge to an upset victory in the Group 1 £350,000 The King’s Stand Stakes (5 furlongs) at Royal Ascot yesterday.
Purton has been based in Hong Kong for the last five seasons, having ridden over 220 winners and is currently third in the Hong Kong jockey’s premiership with fifty-three wins for the season behind the runaway leader Douglas Whyte who is setting the pace with a hundred wins and fellow Australian jockey Brett Prebblewho has fifty-seven wins.
While Purton kept the Australian flag flying at Royal Ascot, the 9-2 equal favourite, the Paul Messara trained Ortensia, wasn’t able to produce her customary final burst for Craig Williams and was a well beaten seven lengths ninth.
Purton said that to win a race at Royal Ascot on Little Bridge (12-1) was one of the greatest moments of his career and Hong Kong trainer Danny Shum was ecstatic, describing the win as a career highlight.
”I’m really happy, I don’t know what to say,” Shum said.
”I love to go to England, I really like this country, and I thought this horse could win.”
Purton is hoping his success in the King’s Stand Stakes is the start of a good week for Australia at Royal Ascot with super mare Black Caviar to fly the flag on the final day of the carnival in the Group 1 £500,000 The Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6 furlongs).
“Little Bridge travelled like a winner the whole way,” Purton said.
”I knew at the 200m mark I had a lot of horse left under me.”
”I knew it was going to take a good one to beat me.”
”We were probably under the radar a little bit this week but Danny and I both came here pretty confident in the horse.”
”It has always been a dream of mine to ride here at Royal Ascot. I’ve been looking forward to this race for two months and to win it is just awesome.
”Hopefully this is the start of a good week for Australia.”
Williams had Ortensia in a challenging position at the 200m but the mare was unable to match it with the leading division over the concluding stages.
Messara said that Ortensia wasn’t at home on the rain affected Royal Ascot track that was rated good to soft and was probably the equivalent of a slow track back in Australia.