Purton Chasing Durban Demon’s Record

Doug Whyte's record of 1813 wins in danger!

Zac Purton’s relentless pursuit of Douglas Whyte’s Hong Kong record of 1813 wins annexed another important milestone at Happy Valley on Wednesday when the Australian slotted a treble to become only the second jockey to ride 1,700 winners or more in Hong Kong.

Zac Purton celebrates milestone success (Pic – HKJC)

Chasing a seventh Hong Kong jockeys’ championship, Purton extended a gaping lead in the 2023/24 standings to 30 wins over Karis Teetan (61) after the Australian snared a three-timer to take his seasonal tally to 91.

In the midst of his 17th Hong Kong season, Purton is bearing down on his ninth century of winners in Hong Kong, having previously achieved the feat in 2013/14, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 – when he set the record for the most wins in a season with 179.

Purton opened his account aboard Moments In Time in the Class 2 Geranium Handicap before slotting his 1,700th on Francis Lui’s Copartner Prance in the first section of the Class 4 Freesia Handicap and then crowning the day by piloting Sports Legend to victory in the Class 3 Oncidium Handicap.

“It’s nice to get to 1,700 wins – it’s a big number,” Purton, 41, said. “It’s nice to get it on a progressive horse (Copartner Prance), so hopefully there’s a few more wins there.

“Whyte’s record is still a way off. There’s still a bit of water to go under the bridge yet. Copartner Prance is still learning, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s doing a few things wrong and when he’s in front, he’s looking around.”

With 25 meetings left in the season, Purton trails Whyte’s colossal figure by 112 wins.

Capital Legend edges out Foremost Teddy (Pic – HKJC)

Now a successful trainer after retiring as a jockey in 2019, 13-time Hong Kong champion Whyte had 12,269 rides in Hong Kong, amassing 1,813 wins at a winning strike rate of 14.78%.

Purton has had 9,854 rides in reaching 1,701 wins at a strike rate of 17.26% since moving to Hong Kong for the 2007/08 season.

Moments In Time earned a HK$1.5 million PP Bonus and gave Danny Shum the first two legs of his treble.

“It was a very good effort, Moments In Time pulled really hard through the first half of the race,” Purton said. “It wasn’t ideal, normally they don’t finish off when they pull like that.

“So, for him to put himself into the race was encouraging for him going forward. He had the race and then he went to throw it away and then he fought for it again – he’s still learning, but there’s something there.”

Shum also scored with Hong Kong International Sale graduate Nice Birdie in the Class 5 Flamingo Flower Handicap under Jerry Chau before teaming with Sports Legend in the last race.

Four-time Hong Kong champion trainer Caspar Fownes is poised to become the fourth horseman to saddle 1,100 Hong Kong winners after Capital Legend snared the Class 4 Lavender Handicap under Hugh Bowman.

Fownes has 1,099 victories in the city to trail only John Moore (1,735), John Size (1,534) and Tony Cruz (1,501).

Glorious Journey overcame barrier 12 under a patient Matthew Chadwick ride to clinch the Class 4 Lusitano Challenge Cup Handicap for Frankie Lor before Ricky Yiu and Teetan combined with Golden Link in the second section of the Class 4 Freesia Handicap. Yiu now has 995 Hong Kong wins.

Ivy League scored his second course and distance win under Keagan De Melo when fending off Simply Maverick in the Class 3 Kalanchoe Handicap for Whyte after E Universe swept to his second course and distance success under Lyle Hewitson in the third section of the Class 4 Freesia Handicap for Manfred Man.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday.

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