Zac Purton closes gap on Joao Moreira in title battle with Sha Tin hat-trick

Sun 3 May 2020

A Sha Tin treble on Sunday helped Zac Purton close the gap on Joao Moreira to one in the battle for the jockeys’ championship in Hong Kong.

Moreira leads 110 to 109 after Purton’s hat-trick, which was kick-started by the John Moore-trained Like That in the Argonaut Plate.

The Akeed Mofeed two-year-old started as the outsider of four, tracking his rivals under Purton and making a 9lb weigh-for-age advantage tell as he quickened past to win by half a length.

“I’m really happy with that, he came off the bit really well,” Moore said.

“He just needed the extra three weeks. He’s a miler and I said to Zac to just drop him in behind – he’s won without touching him.”

Purton and trainer David Hall combined in the Special Cargo Handicap with Demons Rock, before the Australian brought up his three-timer courtesy of the Dennis Yip-trained Decisive Action in the Norman Conqueror Handicap.

Yip has had 18 wins this term and Purton has been in the saddle for 14 of those.

Moreira’s sole success came aboard Fabulous Eight in the Isle Of Man Handicap – and it was a significant one as it saw trainer Ricky Yiu become on the sixth trainer in history to reach 800 career wins in Hong Kong.

“I’m happy to hit that number, very happy, and it helps give me a bigger margin over the others in the premiership,” Yiu said after extending seven clear of his nearest pursuer Francis Lui in the race for the trainers’ title.

Purton and Moreira were out of luck in the feature as the Group Three Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap went the way of the Moore-trained Chefano.

Matthew Chadwick dictated the tempo against four rivals – three of which hailed from the same record-breaking stable – and did so with full confidence in his mount’s ability to outrun the rest.

“He travelled early, got an easy time in front and he was always going to outstay them,” Chadwick said.

“I thought his run last time was the best of John’s horses and he had improvement to come, so I thought he was as good if not better than the favourite.”

Moore said: “I said he’d stay all day. He’s by a sire, Silvano, who went over a mile and a half and he was off a light weight, so from that point of view I had no worries about getting the distance.

“He’ll go to the (Group One) Champions & Chater Cup, but that’s set-weights so it’s going to be much more difficult. I will consider the Champions & Chater Cup for my other runners.”

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