Michael Cox



Zac v Joao: The Countdown

With six meetings remaining Zac Purton leads by two over Joao Moreira in the Hong Kong jockeys premiership. Both have a full book of eight rides at Happy Valley on Tuesday night. Michael Cox breaks down their chances, looks at the key head-to-head match-up and makes a call as to which jockey has the edge.

HAPPY VALLEY, ‘C’ course, Tuesday, June 28, eight races

Zac Purton: 129 wins 

Joao Moreira: 127 wins

THE KEY MATCH-UP: Race 1 (19:15 local, 21:15 AEST)

Zac Purton: Smart Cousin 

Joao Moreira: Great Times

Choosing two horses that are a combined one win from 35 starts as a key match-up might seem strange, but it is the limitations of the jockeys’ mounts – and what looms as a compelling battle of tactics – that will make the Class 5 opener a great watch. 

Hong Kong’s Class 5 is like the race near the end of the junior athletic carnival for all of the kids that haven’t won or placed in anything yet. Yet Hong Kong’s worst horses can bring out the best in its star jockeys, particularly over this course at the Valley. 

The high probability of mid-race moves over the 1800m trip – and the fact Purton and Moreira will be watching each other like hawks on similarly rated chances –  make for must-watch television. Both riders are on horses with good enough form to win, but also in need of a great ride to do it. 

A win here for either jockey could set the tone for the rest of the evening.


Joao Moreira, aboard Waikuku, edges out Zac Purton in the Stewards Cup. (Photo by HKJC)

ZAC’S BEST: Race 8 No 6. Gorgeous Vitality (22:50 local, 00:50 AEST)

Gorgeous Vitality has won his last two by more than seven lengths combined and returns to the same 1000m scamper in the last. This time the three-year-old is deep in Class 3 and giving weight to some older horses in reasonable form, but he is clearly a horse with more ratings points in him. 

Expect fireworks early in this race: Purton will be desperate to find the fence and lead again – especially with the rail out in the wide “C” position – but Moreira will be digging up on his inside from barrier two aboard Special M.

JOAO’S BEST: RACE 6 No 2. Drops Of God (21:45 local, 23:45 AEST)

Drops Of God is one of three rides for Moreira’s key supporter John Size, who is in a championship battle of his own with Frankie Lor (Lor 86, Size 80). Since Drops Of God won second-up this season and took his rating to 81 he has struggled to make an impact. Still, the sprinter has been consistent and can be forgiven for a fading ninth on a sticky track at the Valley. Drops Of God dropped a rating point after that and Moreira will be hoping he has found his mark.

Zac Purton on Gorgeous Vitality (Photo: HKJC)

Joao Moreira on Drops Of God. (Photo: HKJC).


Zac Purton

Moreira doesn’t have a bad book of rides but he lacks the clear favourites Purton has in the form of Gorgeous Vitality (Race 8) and, to a lesser extent, Our Creed (Race 2). 

The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s fixed-odds team installed Purton as $2.60 Jockey Challenge favourite and he has been backed into $2.20. Moreira was $4.25 at the time of writing. 

Purton needs to extend here before racing shifts to Sha Tin on Friday for the ten-race public holiday meeting, where Moreira will be bolstered by a strong hand from Size, who has 16 horses entered for the meeting (not all will gain a start). Given the ammunition awaiting him, if Moreira can maintain the status quo, he will see it as a moral victory, but Purton has a golden opportunity to extend his break. If Purton can go up by two wins, a four win lead with five meetings remaining has an ominous look.

Purton v Moreira - Head To Head

RaceZac PurtonJoao Moreira
Race 1Smart Cousin Great Times
Race 2Our Creed Smoothies
Race 3 Aeroversary Fingers Crossed
Race 4Youthful DealSparky Star
Race 5 E LegendSunny Delight
Race 6 Never Too SoonDrops Of God
Race 7Win Win Fighter Storm Legend
Race 8 Gorgeous VitalitySpecial M



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