RACING fans will be treated to the sight of former Champion Jockey Zac Purton back in the saddle when racing resumes with a nine-race programme at Happy Valley today.
The 39-year-old suffered a horrific fall in the Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin a month ago, fracturing his ribs, ankle, wrist, toes and breaking his nose.
How on earth he can be back race-riding so soon, on half-a-ton of horse flesh going at 40mph, is anyone’s guess.
Purton has freely admitted he won’t be 100 per cent fit, with gyms and saunas recently closed due to the Hong Kong government’s latest response to COVID-19, but he has been riding plenty of track work and is confident he will do himself and his rides justice.
His many thousands of supporters will be hoping he won’t have to move a muscle when he renews his partnership on the exciting New Zealand-bred four-year-old LIGHTNING STORM, who seeks back-to-back victories in the Ma Tau Kok Handicap (11.45am) over five furlongs.
The Danny Shum-trained speedster did something which only three other horses have done in the last 10 seasons in Hong Kong when winning on his debut over five furlongs at Happy Valley.
The son of Per Incanto has been freshened up since that success in October, including a recent impressive winning trial, and is sure to take plenty of beating.
Anyone looking to play a forecast wager should include the Caspar Fownes-trained Jazz Steed, who takes a further drop in class and whose condition and body weight is identical to when he last won in September.
Talking of Caspar Fownes, it’s good to see the reigning Champion Trainer back in the limelight after a slow start to the season.
The 11-time Happy Valley leading trainer had found it tough going in the lead up to Christmas, but a sudden rush of winners – six victories from his last 25 runners – suggests he’s back firing on all cylinders.
The former Champion Trainer sends a strong raiding party to the city track, including the well-handicapped Daily Beauty in the Wang Tau Hom Handicap (11.15am) over six furlongs, and especially JAZZ ANGEL in the Kowloon Tsai Handicap (1.15pm) over the same distance.
This former dual winner in Australia has found the cards stacked against him since arriving in Hong Kong, with either awkward or outside draws counting against him.
Nevertheless, he has still shown plenty of ability in his three races and finally gets an all-important low draw number to enhance his prospects.
With Joao Moreira taking over in the saddle and Fownes adding blinkers, a hood and tongue tie for the first time, it looks like the stable mean business, and he is certainly capable of improving dramatically on past form.
With the likes of in-form and well-drawn Elon, talented newcomer Faulds, speedy Colonel and Party Warrior in the line-up, this looks a competitive handicap, but Jazz Angel can still prove he has plenty in hand over the handicapper.
Lightning Storm 11.45am Happy Valley
Jazz Angel 1.15pm Happy Valley