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Zac Purton reaches 600 Happy Valley wins on night of milestones

By: Leo Schlink   May 17 , 2023

Zac Purton added further gloss to a sparkling career by posting his 600th win at Happy Valley as the Australian maintained a relentless pursuit of history with success aboard Romantic Laos in the second section of the Class 4 Tathong Channel Handicap (1650m) at the city circuit on Wednesday night (17 May).

Hunting a sixth Hong Kong jockeys` championship, Purton is also bidding to break Joao Moreira`s record of 170 wins in a season and with 135 wins so far - and 17 meetings left this this term - Moreira`s towering mark is mathematically within reach.

“It (600 wins at Happy Valley) is a nice number - they`re all milestones, they`re all good marks. But there`s still plenty of work to do,” the famously ambitious Purton said. “It`s not a bad number. I need a few more. Just turn up every week, try and win as many as I can, see where we end up.”

Purton, 40, currently has 1,566 Hong Kong wins and has previously identified 13-time champion Douglas Whyte`s record of 1,813 victories as a possible target. Whyte rode 572 winners at Happy Valley.

Eason claimed the evening`s feature, the Class 2 Victoria Harbour Handicap (1200m), in a cliffhanger finish for Frankie Lor and Alexis Badel to collect a HK$1 million PPG Bonus after charging late to down Howdeepisyourlove by a short head.

“I felt they went quite quick and the horse was at the back as he is usually is but he was actually travelling quite well and at the turn when I started to squeeze him a bit more, he had something to offer,” the Frenchman said.

“He responded very well but I wasn`t sure that I could win the race from that position. It was a good win.”

E Universe powered to a three-and-a-quarter length triumph in the first section of the Class 4 Siu Sai Wan Handicap (1200m) for Manfred Man and Hugh Bowman to underline his talent. The three-year-old had been narrowly beaten at his previous two starts.

Luke Currie slotted his ninth win of the season with a clever ride on Caspar Fownes-trained The Hulk in the first section of the Class 4 Tathong Channel Handicap (1650m), driving the seven-year-old from the front to dictate throughout.

“Caspar was happy to lead or be right on the pace and the way it`s been racing tonight, it was the place to be,” Currie said. “It`s good to get another win and I want to get more before the end of the season. I`ve got the ball rolling a little bit at the end of last month and hopefully I can continue through to the end of the season.”

Pierre Ng`s Super Commander continued a bountiful season with victory in the Class 4 Sha Wan Handicap (1000m) under Luke Ferraris, who stalked leader Super Axiom before pulling clear to post a comfortable win of the season - and his third this campaign at Happy Valley.

“He`s been fantastic, he`s a little soldier and every time he comes to the races, he tries his heart out,” Ferraris said. “Credit to Pierre and his team for having him in good order every time he comes to the races. He`s pulled off another good win tonight.”

Ferraris, 21, clinched a double and slotted his 25th win of the term when Richard Gibson`s One For All surged to the front from barrier 12 to land the second section of the Class 4 Siu Sai Wan Handicap (1200m).

“I said when he won last time that he still had some improvement in him. I bought him as a yearling in Australia, I was very disappointed with his first season but he`s got some quality. He`s really matured well and I think there`s some more left in the tank.

“It`s tough to win drawn 12 at Happy Valley, so full credit to Luke and the horse,” said Gibson after notching his 100th win at the track.

Meaningful Star gave Francis Lui and Vincent Ho their 27th victory in tandem with success in the Class 3 Kong Sing Wan Handicap (1800m) before Angus Chung and Tony Cruz combined with Superb Capitalist, leading throughout, to snare the Class 3 Aldrich Bay Handicap (1200m).

Jimmy Ting-trained Alloy King provided Harry Bentley with his 50th Hong Kong victory after six-year-old proved too strong in the Class 5 Waterfall Bay Handicap. Englishman Bentley has 20 wins for the campaign as he bids to eclipse last season`s tally of 25.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday (21 May).

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