Australian jockey Zac Purton comes to Happy Valley fresh from accepting one trophy from the Japan Racing Association after winning the World Super Jockey Series in Tokyo and looking forward to getting another with promising Genuine Leader.
The Japan Racing Association Trophy is one of the cup races on the Valley card Wednesday night, and Tony Millard trained Genuine Leader stands out as the horse to beat although rising in class.
Genuine Leader has had only five starts but the five-year-old has left a big impression in his last two runs, winning over the Happy Valley 1,200m, seven months apart.
The most recent first-up victory could not have been easier. Horses rarely win at the tight Valley track under a hold but Genuine Leader was eased down in the last 50m and value for much better than the length and a half margin.
He has been ridden by Neil Callan and then Richard Fourie in those two starts but, with Fourie suspended, Purton will be another new rider for the gelding but he is drawn and will take some holding.
Purton’s lead in the jockeys’ championship has disappeared after perennial champion Douglas Whyte rode eight winners in the past three fixtures to take over the front, but Purton has prospects of fighting back on Wednesday with two other excellent rides on Mount Victory and Good Boy Boy for Paul O’Sullivan.
Italian rider Umberto Rispoli has yet to win in the new stint he has just commenced but has a great prospect to break through with Pure Force in the fourth race.
Inside draws are key with the C+3 rail at Happy Valley and Pure Force has a great chance from barrier four to improve on his first-up second in October behind Silver Dragon.
By Nathan Mody