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Purton Covid-positive: Champion jockey faces nervous one-week wait ahead of crucial meeting

Champion jockey Zac Purton will isolate for one week and will require negative tests on raceday to ride at Sunday’s crucial meeting.

Champion jockey Zac Purton has tested positive for Covid and although he was symptom-free and ‘feeling fine’ on Sunday, he faces a nervous seven day wait ahead of a key weekend of big race-rides.

Purton was midway through lunch on a rare Sunday without races when he was informed by club officials that he had returned a positive reading on his daily polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

“I feel fine – no fever, no headache, no cough – I have no symptoms at all,” Purton told Asian Racing Report on Sunday. “I had tested negative on a RAT test this morning but I also went and did a PCR, just like I have everyday for nearly three years now, and I walked away thinking nothing of it because I felt fine.

“We went out, we watched my son Cash play rugby and we were having lunch – I was three parts through a bottle of rosé - when they called to let me know, I was surprised but I came straight home.”

Purton said he tested negative on another rapid antigen test (RAT) test once at home and began informing owners and trainers of his situation.

The five-time champion will need to isolate at home for seven days, which rules him out of Wednesday’s Happy Valley meeting. The isolation period ends at 9am on the crucial ‘international trials’ meeting on November 20, a raceday that includes the three Group 2 events that act as domestic lead-ups to the Hong Kong International Races on December 11.

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Zac Purton winning on Saturday on Beluga. (Photo: HKJC)

Purton is due to ride California Spangle in the G2 Jockey Club Mile – a race that shapes as a marquee clash with the returning champion Golden Sixty – as well as Lucky Sweynesse in the G2 Jockey Club Sprint and Beauty Joy in the Cup.

Stand-by riders will be named for each of Purton’s rides on the day but if he can produce negative RAT tests on race-eve and raceday, and a negative PCR, he will be free to ride.

“I have spoken to all of the trainers and they are all happy to wait,” said Purton, who may also be tested during the week to monitor his viral load. “Obviously I will be doing all that I can to be clear, but that basically means resting, following the doctor’s direction and taking whatever medication I am advised to take.”

Purton was relieved when club officials also informed him that it was unlikely that he had passed the virus on to fellow riders during Saturday’s race meeting at Sha Tin.

“That was comforting because that is the absolute last thing I would want, is to give it to anybody else,” he said.

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