THE KEY MATCH-UP: Race 8, Class 3 (1200m)
Zac Purton: 4. Yo Beauty
Joao Moreira: 6. Excellent Peers
Frankie Lor’s Excellent Peers is gunning for three straight with Moreira aboard and gets another low draw, but Purton has jumped back on the early race favourite Yo Beauty at the right time.
Yo Beauty’s last three runs have been encouraging – the former 80 rater, a Listed winner out of Ireland, has found his mark at the bottom of Class 3 – and if Purton finds a one off spot from barrier six he will be right in this.
Alex Badel came out gunning for the lead from a wide gate last time and ended up posted wide facing the breeze, then endured some bumper car action in the middle stages before Yo Beauty regathered to find the line late. The start before that Yo Beauty was pushed hard to find the lead and was exposed early, before hanging on for third. Yo Beauty is blessed with handy gate speed which can unleash Purton’s tactical mastery.
ZAC'S BEST: R2 No. 1 Victorious Seeker
It is a common misconception among Hong Kong racing fans that there is a mad scramble for rides on declaration day. It may be for some riders low down on the food chain but the apex predators Purton and Moreira seize their prey weeks or even a month in advance.
So it would be for Victorious Seeker, which looms as a going away gift for retiring trainer Paul O’Sullivan and a huge boost to Purton’s premiership push early in the night.
From the moment Victorious Seeker was re-handicapped into Class 5 after an unplaced effort at Happy Valley on June 8, Purton would have had his eyes on this one. The six-year-old won in Class 4 earlier in the term, and won over this tricky course and distance last season. Unlike many horses that drop to cellar grade, Victorious Seeker has run some reasonable races since. Barrier two gives Purton some options to watch how things unfold in what could be a tactical or stop-start race.
Purton and O’Sullivan have enjoyed great success over the years, most notably with the five-time Group One winner Aerovelocity, but they have also struck gold with many horses in this exact situation.
JOAO'S BEST: R3 No. 5 Yellow Fin
Bounded in the air at start last time and ended up back and wide in a messy race. All Moreira needs to do is jump clean, take a position from barrier one and he should win here. Yellowfin meets Sergeant Pepper seven pounds better, and this time it is Sergeant Pepper at a barrier disadvantage, getting gate eight here after jumping from four last time.
Moreira has the ammunition and the right barrier draws to get a win closer, or even draw level, heading into the season finale. Moreira was installed $2.50 Jockey Challenge favourite by the Jockey Club odds men, with Purton around $3.50, and that seems right.
On balance, Moreira starts strong and Purton finishes better.
Zac Purton v Joao Moreira, July 13
|Zac Purton||Joao Moreira|
|Race 1||Raging Blaze||Whiskey Neat|
|Race 2||Victorious Seeker||Amazing Boy|
|Race 4||Triple Triple||Sugar Sugar|
|Race 5||Blissful Star||Amigos Giggle|
|Race 6||Wood On Fire||Timestorm|
|Race 7||Looking Great||E Legend|
|Race 8||Yo Beauty||Excellent Peers|
|Race 10||Captain Win||Keefy|