HORSE racing has made the front pages over the past week in Hong Kong. The news and sport media just can’t get enough of the ongoing battle for the jockeys’ championship title, especially after Zac Purton cut Joao Moreira’s lead to two following his four-timer at Sha Tin.
It’s the talk of the town, with racing- mad market-stall holders, taxi drivers and restaurant waiters all asking whether Poondon (as the locals call him) can finally break the stranglehold of ‘Magic Man’ Moreira.
Both stars are in action at Sha Tin this afternoon, with a full book of rides across the eight races, and it would take a brave man to predict either jockey will leave empty-handed.
One trainer who will be hoping that both jockeys are at the top of their game is rookie Frankie Lor who has made an astonishing start to his career in HK.
The one-time assistant to John Moore and John Size has already saddled 54 winners with more to come.
You can guarantee Purton was on the phone to book the ride on highly-progressive GLORIOUS ARTIST, who lines up in the highlight race of the night, the Clear Water Bay Handicap worth around £130,000 over the extended mile at 3.55pm.
Purton has overlooked his regular partner Royal Performer to get aboard this striking-looking four-year- old, who always looked the winner when outpointing his opposition over 1m1f on dirt a month ago.
A recent winning trial with Purton aboard will have put him cherry-ripe for this contest, with the Moreira ridden Remarkable, and back-to-form Hang’s Decision looking the obvious threats.
Earlier in the afternoon, Purton and Moreira go head-to-head on the two market leaders, Master Bernini (Purton) and DIAMOND FRIENDS (Moreira) in the Kiu Sui Handicap, again over an extended mile, at 2.20pm.
Statistics point to the fact that any horse drawn 10 or higher might as well stay in their horse box, but the two main contenders are housed in the prime boxes of one and two.
Preference is for the Lor-trained Diamond Friends who produced an encouraging comeback after a 10- week break, when a strong-finishing fourth over the track and trip in February. Lor and Moreira have an impressive strike-rate when teaming up together – 12 wins from 42 rides – and this five-time course and distance winner is capable of proving too strong for Master Bernini.
Diamond Friends 2.20pm Sha Tin
Glorious Artist 3.55pm Sha Tin