The battle between top jockeys Zac Purton and Douglas Whyte went to a higher plane on Sunday at Sha Tin in a Jockey Club Mile finish between Ambitious Dragon and Glorious Days that set the standard for next month’s Hong Kong Mile.
Whyte got the best of that, and the day in general with four winners to Purton’s one, but they return to battle on a lesser stage on Wednesday at Happy Valley where it could be Purton who takes command again.
The Australian jockey opens his night with strong rides in the Class Fives, Fastalot for Ricky Yiu and Dark Secret for David Ferraris.
Class Five is the cellar grade in Hong Kong racing, but both horses are a little better than average for this class.
Fastalot has more ability than his form but breathing problems have hindered his progress. He had throat surgery in the off season and returned with a far better run, just touched off over the Valley 1,000m last month and he will be the horse to beat if he can repeat that.
Dark Secret is a maiden but has yet to run a bad race for Purton and he was aboard when the gelding was fourth over the same 1,650m course last time out from a wide gate. He is a drawn a little better and as a strong run home horse looks well placed this time in a race with plenty of leaders.
Whyte’s best chance looks Classic Jewellery for John Size in the seventh race, after that gelding also returned from his summer break with strong effort for second to Victor Delight.
Classic Jewellery showed a little promise at times in six starts last season including a debut win, but didn’t go on with the job. Now a more robust four-year-old, he looks ready to add another win and confirm that talent.
By Nathan Mody