Zac Purton, representing Hong Kong, claimed the HK$800,000 LONGINES International Jockeys Championship title on Wednesday evening at Happy Valley for the first time and at the fifth time of asking, courtesy of two wins in the first and third legs of the series.
In doing so, he saw off the spirited challenge of UK representative Silvestre de Sousa, with French champion Pierre-Charles Boudot, who took the fourth leg, taking third spot on the podium.
This was a popular local victory – of sorts – for Purton, who has a large fan base among Hong Kong racing fans. He has been riding here since 2007, was champion jockey in the 2013/2014 season and has more than 750 victories in his Hong Kong career to date.
However, he was ranked among the outsiders in Jockey Challenge betting and was at one point rated a 25/1 chance for victory, well behind favourites Ryan Moore, Boudot and reigning champion Hugh Bowman.
A delighted Purton said: “I came into the challenge thinking that I had quite ordinary rides, but it turned out well, and I’m pleased to have won, as I’ve gone close a couple of times. I didn’t want it to be another déjà vu. You need a lot of luck, and I got it in two races!”
Attendance at the meeting was 29,294 with record turnover for an IJC meeting of HK$1.308 billion.
Racing resumes on Sunday when the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races take centre stage at Sha Tin Racecourse. HK$84.5 million in prize money is on the line across four Group 1 contests.