Purton Continues Chase For Seventh Hong Kong Title

Happy Valley first due off @ 12h40 on Wednesday

Leading the jockeys’ championship on 100 wins, Zac Purton is seeking a seventh riding title in Hong Kong and has been booked for seven rides at Happy Valley on Wednesday.

The Australian’s book is headlined by Copartner Prance, who goes for a fourth consecutive win in the Class 3 Seine Handicap for trainer Francis Lui.

Jockey Zac Purton has won 1,710 races in Hong Kong

Zac Purton has won 1710 races in Hong Kong (Pic – HKJC)

“He’s still learning what it’s about. He’s not the easiest horse to ride in the mornings, I don’t get the pleasure of riding him in the morning because he’s too difficult – I’m just the race day jockey and he even tests me out there,” Purton said.

Purton has partnered the 76-rater on three occasions for three wins.

“He’s been doing a lot of things right. He has good speed and he puts himself in the right spot,” Purton said. “It’s the first time in the three times that I’ve ridden him that he’s relaxed mid-race. The first time he over raced really badly, the second time he was still strong and last time he relaxed.”

Massive Sovereign is one of Hong Kong’s brightest talents and the Irish-bred is aiming to become the sixth galloper to win the HK$26 million BMW Hong Kong Derby and HK$13 million Gr1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup in the same season.

Since Hong Kong racing turned professional in 1971/72, only five horses have completed the Hong Kong Derby-Champions & Chater Cup double: Co Tack (1983), River Verdon (1991), Makarpura Star (1995), Vengeance Of Rain (2005) and Viva Pataca (2006).

Massive Sovereign won his first two races in Hong Kong after arriving from Ireland. The four-year-old scooped the BMW Hong Kong Derby two starts ago before floundering in eighth position on yielding ground in the HK$28 million Gr1 FWD QEII Cup last month.

The Dennis Yip-trained runner steps up to 2400m for the first time on Sunday, 26 May, at Sha Tin in the season’s 12th and final Group 1 race.

Zac Purton is in the plate again bidding for his third Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup triumph after the heroics of Exultant (2019 & 2020).

Massive Sovereign was previously raced by Coolmore

Massive Sovereign was previously raced by Coolmore (Pic – HKJC)

“Massive Sovereign had one start previously overseas on a wet track and he was beaten by nine lengths – it was the only time he didn’t run first or second in his career before last start. We like to think that it was the wet track which contributed to that performance.

“He also came out of a Derby that was run in record time (1m 59.85s). It was a good test and he put everything into that race, so he may have just had the edge taken off him as well. He went from racing against his own age to facing international Group 1 winners, so that’s a big step, too. It could have been any one of those factors and we won’t know until we get him back on a dry track and assess him again,” Purton said.

Raced as Broadhurst pre-import, Massive Sovereign was previously trained by Aidan O’Brien. He was a two-time winner in Ireland, scoring at Dundalk and Leopardstown.

“He’s never raced over the distance before but he’s a lovely relaxed horse. He’s going to help himself and give himself every chance to run the distance, but it is a question mark until we put him in that position,” Purton said.

Five G Patch, La City Blanche, Moments In Time, Russian Emperor, Senor Toba, Straight Arron and Unbelievable also hold entries, while Rebel’s Romance is due to arrive on Saturday in Hong Kong as the sole overseas representative.

Purton will head to Japan next month to ride Voyage Bubble in the Gr1 Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo on 02 June for trainer Ricky Yiu.

Romantic Warrior will also contest the race for trainer Danny Shum, with both horses scheduled to fly – along with Romantic Charm – on 21 May.

“I think Voyage Bubble is the right style of horse. He’s got speed to put himself in the right spot and they generally roll along a little bit. It’s a testing mile, which he can handle, and he loves to get into a rhythm,” Purton said.

“There are a few things there that suit him and he’s had more time to get over that run in Dubai. Any horse that goes to Dubai and comes back for Champions Day – it comes up a little bit fast for them.

“He ran well here that day but to me it looks like he’s started to blossom a bit more in the mornings – hopefully that means he’ll be at his best and at his best he has some hope.”

Voyage Bubble placed third last start in the HK$22 million Gr1 FWD Champions Mile behind Beauty Eternal after finishing 13th in the Gr1 Dubai Turf. The Deep Field gelding is entered to trial on Thursday over 1000m on the turf at Sha Tin.

Wednesday’s nine-race fixture at Happy Valley commences at 12h40 with the Class 5 Dordogne Handicap.

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