Zac Purton is looking for a fast start when the new Hong Kong racing season begins on at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The Australian star, whose rivalry with Joao Moreira over the past decade has captivated racing fans, said establishing winning momentum early in the season would be key to his chances of winning a fifth riders’ championship in the cut-throat Asian racing jurisdiction.
Speaking on Racing.com’s Raceday Live on Tuesday, Purton said he’d again set a target of at least 100 wins, after riding 125 winners last season.
“It’s always hard to know early in the season – some trainers push their horses harder than others and some trainers think they’ve got their horses ready but other trainers have done a little bit more with theirs,” Purton said.
“You’ve got to get into a rhythm, get the ball rolling and then get the support early, so whoever comes out of the blocks the fastest generally seems to get that support early.
“There are a lot of sliding-door moments and you have to remain consistent all the way through but if I can get off to a good start, it’s certainly going to help me.
“Anything above 100 (wins) is the pass mark for me.
“There have only been three jockeys in the history of racing here in Hong Kong that have ridden 100 or more winners in a season, so that explains how hard it is to do.”
Purton enters the season without a headline horse to bank on, following the retirements of Hong Kong racing’s two highest prizemoney earners in Beauty Generation and Exultant, who, between them, won 13 Group 1 races.
“They’re going to be very hard to replace,” he said.
“I hope I can find myself on another horse of that calibre but they’re very hard to find.”