Zac Purton has crowned a week of stellar milestones by becoming the first rider in history to partner nine LONGINES Hong Kong International Races winners after Japanese mare Normcore upstaged Win Bright and Magical in the HK$28 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
Purton, 37, gained the ride on the grey after Christophe Soumillon was forced to forfeit the mount after failing to secure an unconditional release from quarantine following a COVID test on Thursday.
On Wednesday at Happy Valley, Purton became only the second jockey after Douglas Whyte to ride 1,200 winners in Hong Kong.
The reigning jockey champion, Purton was jubilant after breaking the Hong Kong International Races’ tie he had shared with Frenchman Gerard Mosse after Normcore outsprinted fellow Japan’s Win Bright and Ireland’s Magical.
“It’s something I’m very proud of, it’s a great achievement,” he said.
“To also now be the only jockey to win the full set of international races twice is also for myself somewhat rewarding.
“Hopefully, I can just can continue to have luck at this meeting going forward.
“It’s been a great week, I’m very thankful that I get these opportunities.”
Purton was grateful to regain the ride on Normcore, whose previous G1 triumph came in the Victoria Mile when partnered by another Australian, Damian Lane, in May 2019.
“Initially we sort of confirmed the ride and then when it was announced Christophe was coming, they changed their mind. They’re entitled to do that,” Purton said.
“It was what it was, I just had to accept that. Thankfully, it came back.”
2020 Hong Kong Cup Replay
Purton has been synonymous with LONGINES Hong Kong International Races success with eight previous triumphs on the jurisdiction’s most prestigious day.
The New South Welshman savoured Vase glory with Dominant (2013) and Exultant (2018), the Mile with Ambitious Dragon (2012), Beauty Only (2016) and Beauty Generation (2018), Sprint with Aerovelocity (2014 and 2016) and the Cup with Time Warp in 2017.
Purton stalked the 2019 Cup winner Win Bright in the run before peeling widest in a riveting global contest.
Japan’s three runners finished in the top four, with Danon Premium trailing Magical to the line.
“She (Normcore) had to fight for it, Win Bright gave a really sharp kick and his love for Sha Tin was starting to show through,” Purton said.
Golden Sixty Takes Hong Kong Mile
They came, they saw, they tried to blunt his dash, but they failed to conquer Golden Sixty: Hong Kong’s burgeoning hometown hero dismantled his international rivals in the HK$25 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin with an exquisite performance.
“He’s amazing, isn’t he?” jockey Vincent Ho said, moments after the brilliant five-year-old unleashed an unanswerable burst of speed that carried him to a dazzling two-length victory.
For Ho and trainer Francis Lui, Golden Sixty’s success is a first at the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races.
Lui was delighted and relieved to see his standout galloper seal a 14th win from 15 starts, and surpass the great Beauty Generation’s 10 wins in a row with his 11th-straight triumph – in Hong Kong, only the near-immortal Silent Witness has won more races on the bounce.
“I can have a good sleep tonight!” Lui declared. “I’m very happy – at the moment, I don’t know what to say, (my heart) is still pumping. As a jockey, as a trainer, as an owner, you’re dreaming of this.
“I was worried about the horses from Japan and Ireland but now, after this race, he has shown me that he’s a champion.”
Lui’s pre-race concerns were natural with Japan’s 2019 victor Admire Mars in the line-up along with last-start G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia, from Ireland’s powerful Aidan O’Brien stable. But his anxiety proved needless, the invaders were no match for last season’s BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner, who races in the silks of Stanley Chan Ka-leung.
2020 Hong Kong Mile Replay
Moore, O’Brien Team up With Mogul in Hong Kong Vase
Vindicating Aidan O’Brien’s long-held faith, Mogul has emphatically underlined claims as heir apparent to Ballydoyle’s throne after claiming victory in the HK$20 million LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m).
Providing Aidan O’Brien’s third triumph in the race, adding to Highland Reel’s 2015 and 2017 wins, Mogul downed Hong Kong champion Exultant and Columbus County to also give Ryan Moore his third Vase success.
Yet another son of Galileo, Mogul has long been touted as the next world-beater to emerge from O’Brien’s yard and proved his class by overwhelming Exultant, a five-time G1 winner and Hong Kong’s reigning Horse of the Year.
While elated at notching his sixth LONGINES Hong Kong International Races victory, Moore was unsurprised by the quality of Mogul’s performance.
“He’s a horse that we always expected a lot from,” Moore said.
“He was a good two-year-old, he won his G2 race (Champions Juvenile Stakes) at Leopardstown. I don’t know, maybe just the way the season unfolded, he took a while to really pull himself together.
“Maybe he was just a bit behind Derby Day (when sixth to Serpentine) and we were always on the back foot. He was super impressive when he won in Paris (Grand Prix de Paris) and his Breeders’ Cup run (fifth behind Tarnawa in the Breeders’ Cup Turf) wasn’t without merit.
“Today, the race worked out nicely for him, he’s beaten a really solid yardstick in Exultant. He (Exultant) always seems to consistently perform to the same level and never seems to run a bad race around here.