Zac Purton will ride Packing Treadmill in the 2023 Hong Kong Classic Mile but he has doubts about the horse’s ability beyond a mile and is keeping his Hong Kong Derby options open. 

Packing Treadmill is presumptive favourite for the opening race in the four-year-old series, the Classic Mile, on January 29, and Francis Lui’s progressive PPG was number one on Asian Racing Report’s recently released Hong Kong Derby Rankings.  

Purton has a host of options for the four-year-old series, which continues through the Classic Cup at 1800m and then on to the 2000m Derby in March, but has gone with Lui’s new star, for now. 

“Packing Treadmill is my choice for the Classic Mile, but I think the mile is on the outer edge of his limits,” Purton told Asian Racing Report. “At the mile he is well suited, but beyond that I will be possibly looking to ride something else.”

The five-time champion jockey said he had no doubts about Packing Treadmill’s class but didn’t see enough in his last performance to feel confident the horse would be able to push past 1600m. 

“He had his last run over a mile and was impressive, but he drew a low gate in a slowly run race and a light weight on his back, which gave him every chance to run the distance,” Puton said. 

“On the plus side, it was in Class 2 and a pretty strong race. I think the formlines he has coming through are quite strong. He has a good winning record and he is going to have the second highest rating in the race which I think is important because he is racing these horses at level weights. 

“He has proven himself in Class 2, he has proven himself at the distance and he has a good will to win and I think a lot of the other horses have convictions.”

For all of Purton’s plans however, if Packing Treadmill is dominant in the Mile it could convince owners to push to the Classic Cup and Derby, and for the jockey to stay aboard. 

“The agreement I have with the owner is that I will ride him in the Classic Mile but I will most probably ride another horse in the 1800m and 2000m,” he said. “But of course that can all change. At the moment they don’t want to go beyond the mile anyway, and that is as far as the horse wants to run. So for the future and longevity of the horse they don’t want to race him beyond what he is capable of. 

“That is all easy to say at the time, but when the golden carrot gets dangled in front of you it can sometimes be hard to resist. So that decision won’t be made until after the Classic Mile.” 

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