Win­ning Method one of only five rides for Pur­ton

The Citizen (KZN) - - Racing Express - Hong Kong

– Zac Pur­ton heads into to­day’s Happy Val­ley card with his small­est book of rides this sea­son but the cham­pion jockey is up­beat that Win­ning Method might en­sure a good strike rate.

“A few horses I was booked to ride didn’t get in; they were on the re­serve list,” the rider ex­plained.

The Aus­tralian ace’s five mounts on the nine-race card is one less than his next low­est this term but could have been only four. The with­drawal of Brave Power re­sulted in standby starter Win­ner’s Heart be­ing pro­moted.

Win­ning Method lines up in the last race, the Class 3 Hoi Yuen Hand­i­cap over 1200m and he is aim­ing to go back-to-back. Grant van Niek­erk part­nered this three­year-old for a re­turn to form last time but misses out to Pur­ton due to sus­pen­sion.

“He’s a boldly-go­ing horse, he wants to get out there and get on with it to get things done, we’ve seen that at the races as well,” he said.

The Danny Shum-trained gal­loper will break from gate nine against a hot field of 12 which fea­tures six other horses who have al­ready won this sea­son, in­clud­ing two with mul­ti­ple suc­cesses.

“It’s a bit of an awk­ward bar­rier but his last win was solid and if he can re­peat that per­for­mance, he’s got a chance again,” Hong Kong’s three-time cham­pion jockey said.

The Holy Ro­man Em­peror gal­loper showed prom­ise as a grif­fin late last term but was gelded in the off-sea­son and dis­ap­pointed when de­feated in his first two starts; eighth as a dom­i­nant 6-10 favourite and then sev­enth as a 33-10 favourite.

“Af­ter be­ing gelded, some horses need time to re­cover and this is why he didn’t re­turn at his best,” Shum said.

The ad­di­tion of blink­ers have also aided the three-time win­ner, strik­ing at his third at­tempt with them last start when hold­ing off a com­pet­i­tive field that in­cluded Snap Fit, Shin­ing Ace and Baby – all win­ners at the Val­ley this sea­son.

“The blink­ers have helped him as well as be­ing gelded, so it took him a few runs to feel bet­ter but now he’s shown that he has re­turned to form,” Shum said.

With a fair bit of pace in the race, com­ing from the likes of Speed Vi­sion, Quadru­ple Dou­ble and Re­lent­less Me – Shum in­di­cated that his tac­tics could be al­tered to ac­com­mo­date his charge.

“His form is con­sis­tent, the only is­sue now is that he has drawn bar­rier nine but hope­fully he can jump, go for­ward and maybe fol­low Quadru­ple Dou­ble but he has a chance again,” he said.

Pur­ton, mean­while, has 54 wins on the board and is hav­ing a stel­lar term by any­one’s stan­dards but Hong Kong’s reign­ing cham­pion jockey is a lit­tle un­sat­is­fied with his first half of the sea­son.

“It’s go­ing ok af­ter a frus­trat­ing start to the sea­son – a cou­ple of sus­pen­sions halted my mo­men­tum and the big horses haven’t quite turned up, as well as the sta­bles I ride for be­ing a bit quiet,” he said.

Pur­ton is five be­hind Joao Mor­eira who leads with the premier­ship with 59 wins as the half­way point comes into view.

“It is what it is but hope­fully that means it’s all go­ing to come to­gether in the sec­ond half of the sea­son,” he added.

Be­yond to­day’s card, Hong Kong rac­ing will con­tinue on Mon­day with the HK$10 mil­lion Hong Kong Clas­sic Mile, the first leg of the Four-Year-Old Clas­sic Series. That race has eluded the dec­o­rated jockey, who will ride the Tony Cruz-trained Star Per­for­mance this time. The geld­ing won at the tail-end of last sea­son but has gone win­less across five ap­pear­ances this cam­paign.

“He’s been dis­ap­point­ing, last time he had the pace to suit, he re­laxed nicely with the right run and he came into it as if he was go­ing to pro­duce some­thing spe­cial but he just didn’t fin­ish it off,” Pur­ton said.

“Tony’s go­ing to tin­ker with the gear, he’s got the engine, he’s got abil­ity it’s just a mat­ter of whether he’s go­ing to do it but he should be com­pet­i­tive.”

The Per In­canto geld­ing will face an ex­pected field of nine en­tered for Mon­day’s fea­ture, in­clud­ing Golden Sixty, Cham­pion’s Way, Beauty Legacy and More Than This. – Hong Kong Jockey Club

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