Two successive trebles from Douglas Whyte appeared to have ended Zac Purton’s effort to unseat the South African as Hong Kong’s champion jockey, but the Australian has now suffered a further blow and will miss the midweek Happy Valley meeting.
Purton stood down from his final ride on Sunday after complaining of pain in his lower back that the Jockey Club doctor suspected was the result of kidney stones and that view was confirmed on Monday.
So Purton has received treatment and withdrawn from riding on Wednesday and Whyte looks like extending his 8-win lead with some good rides throughout the night, particularly his main chances, Yuan’s Fortune (race one), Good Hong Kong (race two), Brave Brother (race three) and Ensemble (race seven).
And the Durban Demon will be looking to help not only himself but his main partner, training championship contender John Size, to a good night on the track.
Brave Brother looks placed to give both a win after being unable to get clear running in the final 200m last time when fourth at the Valley – with room, he might have won that one and this race is no harder.
Size has good chances to improve his title chances in Ensemble and Happy Era, but his key rivals will all line up winning chances too and no trainer looks dominant .
Dennis Yip continues to lead the race despite most commentators still looking elsewhere for the winner and he is three clear of Tony Cruz, four in front of Size and six clear of Caspar Fownes who is starting to lose touch.
Cruz will have strong fancies in Naughty Baby and Regency Champion but Yip will have his share of hopefuls too, saddling up last start winners Flying Elite in race four and Sea The Pearls in the seventh from perfect draws.
By Nathan Mody