Zac Purton stormed to his fifth and perhaps most satisfying jockey premier post at Sha Tin on Saturday, landing a quartet to finally wrap up a riveting title race at the final meeting of the season.
With longtime rival Joao Moreira on par with longtime rival Joao Moreira heading into the 2021-22 finals, Purton pounded one shot at a time to reclaim the crown from the Magic Man, who won his fourth title last season.
“Everyone is special in their own way and I want to pay tribute to Joao, too,” Purton said.
“It’s been a really difficult season and the last three years for all of us here in Hong Kong due to the Covid lockdowns as we’ve had to homeschool the kids. We both had our health issues, so it was really, really tough.
“We both deserve to win. It’s really hard that only one person can do that. It’s draining and we’re both probably at the end of our tether so it’s nice that we can close it today, both go on holiday and come back next season.”
While Purton’s focus was partly on the thought of sitting on a beach in the Maldives, it’s only a matter of time before the magnitude of his accomplishment dips.
Purton now has a 5-4 advantage over Moreira when it comes to Premierships after nine years of the pair’s dominance, but if the ongoing whisper is on the money, Hong Kong racing fans may have seen their last blockbuster edition of the Zac and Joao Show.
Many have hinted that one – if not both – of Purton and Moreira could be gone by the end of next season and if it turns out the Australian will forever enjoy the crown that has given him a lasting edge over the more famous Rival.
The layers of meaning embedded in Purton’s performance don’t stop there.
Purton, sidelined by a series of injuries sustained in the horror crash in the December Hong Kong Sprint, missed eight meetings and – after taking a while to hit his straps on his return – stared he was on an 18-win deficit when Moreira started a six-session suspension in February.
After a ding-dong struggle in the final months of the campaign, Purton reigned at the helm and while his first title in 2013-14 saw him end Douglas Whyte’s 13-year dominance, this win could well come on a similar one level lies this breakthrough when the 39-year-old reflects on his exploits one day.
With 132 wins to level with Moreira before the 88th and final game, the Australian aboard Turquoise Alpha took the lead in the Class Four Solar Hei Hei Handicap (1,800m) and extended his lead with a win over Never Too Soon in Class Three All home you want Handicap (1,400 m).
Purton then put the result beyond doubt in the daily report and saluted the Whyte-trained Turin Redsun in the Class One Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association Trophy (1,600 m).
“I said a few weeks ago how ironic it would be if I won for Douglas on that horse, as I obviously knew I was booked to ride him,” said Purton.
“To seal the championship, after everything Douglas and I have been through, it’s a lot nicer to be your friend than your foe.”
Lucky Sweynesse was Purton’s last winner, with the three-year-old saluting in fine style from Manfred Man Ka-leung – who was crowned Friday night’s Champion Griffin – to claim a fifth win from seven starts.
Moreira went winless that day, taking three third places and one second aboard Money Catcher in the race where Purton sealed the deal.
https://www.scmp.com/sport/racing/article/3185533/zac-purton-storms-fifth-jockeys-title-shaking-joao-moreira-emphatic?utm_source=rss_feed Zac Purton storms to fifth jockeys’ title, shaking off Joao Moreira with emphatic four-timer | HK Racing