Outstanding Australian jockey Zac Purton says that an announcement on his riding future will be made next week, in the aftermath of Sunday’s Champions Day meeting in Hong Kong.
A five-time premiership winner in the Asian racing hub, Purton’s recent Group 1 success in Sydney has fuelled speculation of a possible permanent return to his home country.
“We’ve had some discussions with the (Hong Kong Jockey) Club and I won’t talk about what they were, but I feel like things have gone well there,” Purton told Racing.com on Wednesday.
“I’ll make that announcement next week.”
In the meantime, Purton will be in action in all three G1s at Sha Tin on Sunday and partnered Japanese galloper Prognosis in a piece of work on Wednesday morning.
A winner of five of his eight career starts, Prognosis will be taking on top British galloper Dubai Honour and local middle-distance star Romantic Warrior in the G1 QEII Cup (2000m).
“If you look at the ratings, he’s well out of it,” Purton said.
“He’s going to have to put in a PB and a big jump up from what he’s previously done, but he’s lightly raced, he’s coming here on the back of a good win.
“The pace of the race is going to be crucial for him because he settles at the rear, so he’s up against it, but he’s trained by a very good trainer, he wouldn’t be bringing him here if he didn’t think he was going to be competitive.”
Purton will continue his association with California Spangle in Sunday’s G1 Champions Mile, in the latest chapter of his rivalry with Hong Kong’s champion, Golden Sixty.
The Aussie hoop admits he’s been a little disappointed with his mount’s past two performances and has been left without doubt as to how trainer Tony Cruz wants California Spangle to be ridden.
“Tony Cruz, after the race, has made it clear that I must lead this race, he wasn’t entirely comfortable with me taking a sit last time, which is going to be difficult because we have two other horses in the race that are known leaders as well, so that poses a bit of a problem but my hands are now tied, I have to go,” Purton said.
Perhaps Purton’s best chance of adding to his tally of four G1 wins on Champions Day is Lucky Sweynesse, who has won his past four starts in succession and will be the likely favourite in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize.
“He’s had a terrific season, he’s coming into the race in really good form, he feels good in the mornings,” Purton said.
“He’s just got to get himself out of the gates, get himself into a rhythm as quickly as he can, and he’ll give himself a chance from there.”