Joao Moreira and Zac Purton know that every win is massive in their duel for this season’s champion jockey title.
So the outcome of a stewards’ inquiry and objection after a head-bobber between the pair in the section two of the Class 4 Mong Kok Handicap could prove vital in the final count.
Moreira got the John Size-trained Leading Fortune’s (119lb) nose down bang on the wire to edge Purton’s mount Party Genius (125lb) by a short-head, but the Brazilian had battled his own horse as well as his rival to get there. Leading Fortune repeatedly lugged into Party Genius down the length of the straight, buffeting his opponent despite Moreira’s attempts to correct while maintaining forceful momentum.
The stewards ruled in Moreira’s favour, throwing out the objection and denying Purton a first win for his former arch riding rival Douglas Whyte.
“The horse made it so tough for me – he was just not doing things correctly. Unfortunately we had to decide it in the stewards’ room but I think the decision to keep it how we finished was the right one,” Moreira said.
That moved the three-time champion to 99 wins for the term and he became the first jockey this season to hit the century mark in race eight, the Class 3 Jordan Handicap (1800m).
“I wasn’t thinking about that but it’s good to get there!” Moreira said.
The milestone win came on the Whyte-trained Enzemble. The five-year-old made his Hong Kong breakthrough at the 10th attempt thanks to a determined late kick.
“I was confident about him even knowing that he’s not yet at his very best, so to win is a good sign. He got the perfect run and when I pulled him out he was always going to be strong to the line.”
Moreira made it a treble in the 10th race, the Class 3 Hung Hom Handicap (1400m). The ‘Magic Man’ rattled from deep with a rail run aboard Fantastic Show (117lb) that ensured the Tsui-trained galloper a third win on the bounce and denied Purton on the smart Irish import Beauty Smile (130lb).
Purton was on the mark aboard Good View Clarico (130lb) in section 2 of the King’s Park Handicap (1200m). The Dennis Yip-trained three-year-old held off Casa De Forca (127lb) by three quarters of a length.
That meant Purton ended the day four wins behind Moreira in the championship standings.
- Hong Kong Jockey Club