Australian jockey Zac Purton was cautioned by the stewards on Sunday after pointing at Douglas Whyte and taunting him after Ambitious Dragon had got the better of Glorious Days in the Hong Kong Mile.
Their fierce rivalry this season has brought this kind of incident several times – and it hasn’t been one way traffic – and a memorable jockey championship fight looks like emerging from Purton’s rise as the major challenger for the title the South African has owned for 12 years.
The racing drops from world class to standard on Wednesday night at Happy Valley but they all count the same for the championship, and Purton looks capable of closing his three-win deficit further.
In the Class Five staying race, he has Mount Victory for Paul O’Sullivan, who relishes the 2,200m and didn’t have the best of luck down the straight when a close fifth over 1,800m last start.
In the fifth race, he and Whyte will have strong claims on Able Magic and One Of A Kind, respectively, after fighting out a finish at Sha Tin recently. Able Magic got the better of that clash though he has the worst of the weights this time.
But Purton looks the one to beat in race six on Kick Serve. The Michael Chang-trained gelding has returned to racing in good form this season with placings at his two starts over the same course and distance and from the inside draw, he will get a lovely trail behind the speedsters.
In the last race, Purton rides Choice Treasure, who raced as Ockham’s Razor in Australia and New Zealand, and the grey was an eye-catching first-start seventh at Happy Valley.
He was badly checked at the start and settled a clear last before running on to be beaten only two and a half lengths over 1,000m.
By Nathan Mody