It was the Zac Purton show at Randwick as the superstar Hong Kong-based jockey made a clean-sweep of the two Group 1 races, both wins coming for the famous Freedman family.
Just 40 minutes after teaming with Anthony and Sam Freedman to guide Artorius to an overdue win in the Canterbury Stakes (1300m), Purton linked with the former’s brother Michael to land the Randwick Guineas (1600m) on Communist.
The rare visit to Sydney gave Purton his first major in his former hometown since his victory aboard In Her Time in the 2018 The Galaxy and while he had high hopes for Artorius, he admitted Communist’s win was a bonus.
“I came for a quality horse in Artorius and I was hoping that he could produce his best today, which he did so that was great,” Purton said.
“Communist was a good ride to pick up as part of the package to come, so it has been a good day.”
Communist had disappointed in the Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at his previous start when he led and tired to finish seventh, but Michael Freedman said he was a happier horse when ridden more quietly.
Purton was able to achieve that on Saturday and Communist ($16) unleashed a brilliant turn of foot to come from back in the field and swoop.
He had 1-1/4 lengths to spare over Lindermann ($16) with Zou Tiger ($4.20) another half-length away.
“He’s been a problem child for a while but I’d had a lot of faith in his ability,” Freedman said.
“His work on Monday at Hawkesbury was first class. I think having Zac here, not too many preconceived ideas, we just said, ‘ride him how you feel he’s travelling’.
“He’s a better chaser. I’ve always felt that there’s this sort of run in him.”
Freedman will let the dust settle before deciding his next move but the options include stepping him up in trip to the Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and tackling another Group 1 at Randwick in the Doncaster Mile (1600m).
As for whether Purton will make the permanent move back to Australia soon, which has been rumoured, the hoop says he will make a decision on his future in the coming months.
“I must admit, I have enjoyed my time here. It has been great to see everyone again, it’s been a beautiful day, everyone has been warm and welcoming so I’ve appreciated that,” Purton said.
“But we love Hong Kong too.
“I’m not going to say no, I’m not going to say yes. I’m non-committal at the moment. I think by the end of April I’ll know where I’m at.”
Aft Cabin started a $2.60 favourite and didn’t have the clearest of runs in the straight but James Mcdonald felt he struggled at the mile.
“He went really well, he just struggled to stay that trip,” McDonald said.
– RAS NewsWire