Andrew Le Jeune

Presenter & Columnist


LJ Confidential: Purton’s future, the age of the ‘PPG’ and the perpetual positivity of Karis Teetan

Asian Racing Review host Andrew Le Jeune explores Zac Purton’s career options, delves into the trend towards Private Purchase Griffins among Hong Kong’s elite horses and provides his take on ‘that’ Karis Teetan Gold Cup ride.

Purton can pick and choose

What does the future hold for Hong Kong’s undisputed champion jockey Zac Purton? 

It has been an eventful couple of weeks of highs and lows for the Australian: last week he was slugged HK$150,000 for criticism of chief steward Marc Van Gestel, he passed 100 wins for the season at Happy Valley on Wednesday and he heads to Randwick for six rides on Saturday, including a top chance in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes aboard Artorious. 

Purton admitted last season that there was nothing left for him to achieve in Hong Kong, and that was before he won a fifth Jockeys’ Championship. 

Does he push on to chase Douglas Whyte’s all-time record for wins? That would take at least two more seasons. Or does an Australian base appeal to him?

If Purton so desires, the future could be the best of both worlds: riding in Australia in August to November, back to Hong Kong from November to March and then Sydney again for its lucrative autumn races. 


Zac Purton brings up season win number 100 aboard A Americ Te Specso. (Photo by HKJC)

It might seem a big ask, but if you are the star employee at a company you have some bargaining power, and Purton certainly has some leverage and strong support in both jurisdictions. 

Purton’s achievements have put him in a position where he can choose his own destiny. 

Quotes in the South China Morning Post from Purton last week certainly stoked the speculation that Sydney could be a new base: “I might go down there, test the waters, see how it feels, and maybe that’s where I’ll end up.” 

Welcome to the PPG era

For the last two decades the Hong Kong Derby has been the domain of high-priced ‘Private Purchases’ – tried horses purchased off racetrack performances, primarily in Europe and Australia. 

But Private Purchase Griffins, or horses that were not previously raced before being imported to Hong Kong have won the last three Derbies: Golden Sixty, Sky Darci and Romantic Warrior (technically an “ISG” purchased out of the Hong Kong International Sale, but unraced nonetheless). 

Before 2019, Private Purchases had won 15 of the previous 20 Derbies. 

Look to the top of the Hong Kong overall horse ratings however and there is more PPG dominance: the top six horses by ratings – Golden Sixty, Romantic Warrior, California Spangle, Lucky Sweynesse, Wellington and Sight Success – were all unraced prior to their move to Sha Tin. 

This year’s Hong Kong Derby seems set to continue the PPG trend. Beauty Eternal could not have been more impressive when winning in Class 2 last Sunday and stands out as the clear top pick for next month’s race. Super Sunny Sing dominated in the Hong Kong Classic Cup and is a consensus second pick in Asian Racing Report’s Hong Kong Derby Rankings. 

Both Beauty Eternal and Super Sunny Sing look like stars of the future too. The number of PPGs at the top of Hong Kong racing is likely to further grow given the Jockey Club’s policy of increasing the proportion of permits for unraced horses. 

Karis Teetan is Hong Kong's 'Mr Positive'

It was former American President Calvin Coolidge that said “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.” 

There is no greater living example in Hong Kong racing of this attitude than Karis Teetan, who received the hammer blow news that he had lost the ride on Romantic Warrior after he was beaten in Sunday’s Hong Kong Gold Cup. 

First, the ride: I felt Teetan was harshly treated. He rode Romantic Warrior as most expected and Golden Sixty was simply the better horse on the day. Was Romantic Warrior at his best? I don’t think he was. 

However unfair, Teetan’s ability to bounce back – as he has many times after losing rides on top horses – is proven. 

The Mauritian rode a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday night and he was back at trackwork with a smile on his face this week. 

Losing a top shelf ride like Romantic Warrior in that manner would have been a serious setback for most jockeys in Teetan’s situation, but it is testament to his always positive attitude that he is already back riding winners. 

Who knows, maybe Teetan will end up getting the ride back on Romantic Warrior again one day. 

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