Zac Purton stretched his jockey championship lead to three in Douglas Whyte’s absence through suspension on Saturday and he will have one more free kick at Happy Valley midweek before the reigning champion is back for the Chinese New Year meeting next Tuesday.
We’ve had the Dream Team of Whyte and champion trainer John Size for years, but Purton and trainer Dennis Yip have taken over as the hottest combination in town.
Purton doesn’t ride every Yip runner but he has won 12 of 44 rides for the trainer this season, and his last 18 rides for the stable have brought up 8 winners, so the pairing is catching the eye.
On Wednesday, Purton is on three horses for Yip with Sharp Print (race one), Ho Ho Life (race four) and Groovy (race six).
Ho Ho Life is dropping back in grade and looks a serious proposition in Class Four again over 1,800m, and Groovy hasn’t had much luck for other jockeys since he got back to Class Three recently.
Groovy’s owner also owns Purton’s smart debut winner last Saturday, Grimmy, and the jockey has now won four of five rides for the owner so his presence on Groovy looks an important signal.
The most interesting of the three is Sharp Print, who has raced 8 times in Hong Kong without getting closer than ninth, but he dropped to the lowest grade, Class Five, at his last run and was much closer, beaten only three lengths after jumping from a wide gate. That was his first race at Happy Valley and the stock of his sire, Holy Roman Emperor, have shown a real affinity for the tricky circuit.
On Wednesday, Purton replaces the stable apprentice, blinkers go on and Sharp Print has drawn gate three, all pointers that he will improve sharply.
By Nathan Mody