Zac Purton rides quartet, Seasons Wit extends winning streak at Happy Valley
By Declan Schuster
Seasons Wit went a long way to confirming some of his early promise this afternoon (Sunday, 29 October) as he romped to a fourth straight win in the HK$2.84 million Class 2 Kwangtung Handicap Cup (1000m) at Happy Valley.
Expertly handled by superstar jockey Zac Purton, who collected a four-timer at the fixture, Seasons Wit (119lb) – trained by Jamie Richards – extended smartly for a three length first-up success in 56.91s over Reward Smile (115lb) and Carroll Street (113lb).
“He’s done a really good job. He was a three-year-old last season and after a few runs he started to get the hang of it. Jamie was mindful to have him a little bit more ready for the start of this season because he took a couple of runs last season.
“He’s matured nicely. Once he got the start right he found himself in the right spot and with no weight on his back he was able to do his job,” Purton said.
By Capitalist, Seasons Wit racked up a hat-trick of wins across his final three outings last season over today’s course and distance in Class 3. He earned HK$3.09 million this afternoon for connections, which includes a HK$1.5 million ‘PP Bonus’.
“We’d targeted the race for a little while. Obviously there aren’t too many races for his rating at Happy Valley over 1000 metres. He’s had a good preparation and he looks like he’s improved over the summer,” Richards said.
After setting the early tempo, both Kurpany (130lb) and Nervous Witness (126lb) failed to make impacts, finishing sixth and seventh, respectively.
“He’s (Seasons Wit) going to run out of races at Happy Valley that are suitable because of his rating. He’s a 1000 metre horse around here and he probably has to stretch to 1200 metres at Sha Tin.
“There is a suitable race for him here at the end of November, so we might look at that,” Richards said.
Snapping a rare cold spell that saw Purton go winless across three race meetings in Hong Kong, the Australian’s four victories see him join jockey Hugh Bowman at the top of the championship table with 20 wins apiece.
Purton’s third triumph came for trainer David Hayes in the Class 4 Shantou Handicap (1200m) aboard make-all winner Tomodachi Kokoroe.
“He wasn’t the quickest out of the gates. It took him a little bit to get into his rhythm and stride. Once he was able to do that he travelled really, really nicely.
“I let him come out off the bend to keep him balanced but he didn’t change his leg, which had me worried because it felt like he was going up and down in the one spot and getting a bit tired but he obviously kept the gallop up,” Purton said.
The six-time champion jockey commenced his four-timer aboard Turin Mascot for trainer Pierre Ng in the Class 3 Guangzhou Handicap (2200m).
Purton and trainer Douglas Whyte successfully combined with Durham Star – an arrogant winner of the Class 4 Huizhou Handicap (1650m).
“Today he had all of the favours, there was a really good, solid tempo and they never stop-started. He hugged the rail and that looks like the place to be today and he managed to get to the outside of horses. I think the win was a little bit flattering with the run that he did have but he deserved that and so did the owners,” Whyte said.
Jockey Andrea Atzeni collected his seventh win from the last five race meetings with a double for trainer Ricky Yiu, who won the last three races at the city circuit.
The Italian scored aboard Precise Express, who gained a start due to Vincy’s withdrawal from the Class 4 Shenzhen Handicap (1800m). Atzeni made it a race-to-race double with a rail-hugging ride aboard Golden Artie in the Class 3 Zhaoqing Handicap (1200m).
“I knew it was going to open up on my inside and he’s a gutsy horse. Great to get a double, I’m suspended on Wednesday (1 November) and it’s good to get a double for Rick Yiu – he’s been supporting me since I got here, so it’s great,” Atzeni said.
Jockey Lyle Hewitson closed out Yiu’s trio aboard Splendid Living in the Class 3 Zhuhai Handicap (1650m).
“He’s super honest. On paper you can tell he likes to lead but the grey (Brilliant Way) has a lot of speed, I had to let him cross me because he was always going to eventually and hope that he kept up a genuine tempo,” Hewitson said.
Jockey Brenton Avdulla grabbed a third win from the last three race meetings as Mr Valiant landed the Class 4 Foshan Handicap (1000m) by a neck for trainer David Hall.
“He did a good job. He had nice form and he’s well down in rating from where he has been but he gave me plenty of confidence going to the gates and everything worked out really well,” Avdulla said.
Nordic Combined claimed the Class 5 Chaozhou Handicap (1200m) for jockey Alexis Badel and trainer Chris So. So made it a double two races later as Hang’s Choice rounded the field to win the Class 4 Dongguan Handicap (1650m) under jockey Karis Teetan.
Trainer Francis Lui indicated that Golden Sixty will go into the HK$32 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) first-up, seeming to abandon consideration for a tilt in the HK$5.35 million G2 BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile (1600m).
“He needs a few barrier trials. He’ll trial on Tuesday (31 October),” Lui said.
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday evening (1 November).
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