ZAC PURTON’s army of followers will be filled with anticipation when Hong Kong’s reigning champion jockey arrives at Happy Valley today.
With current leader Joao Moreira sitting out the first of a two-meeting suspension, Purton has a golden chance of making a sizeable indent into the 12-winner lead the ‘Magic Man’ currently holds over his rival.
Purton is booked in all nine races and is guaranteed to be near the forefront of the betting throughout the meeting.
His rides include the well-handicapped Speedy Wally, who returns to his optimum trip in the opening Yuk Sau Handicap (10.45am), and Let’s Take It Easy who has a chance to get his head in front again in the Yik Yam Handicap (11.45am).
Ares will be a short price after two recent eye-catching trials in the 6f Wang Tak Handicap (11.15am), while highly-progressive sprinter Amazing Star will be a warm favourite to complete a four-timer in the main event of the day, the £280,000 Class 1 Blue Pool Handicap (1.45pm).
It’s also interesting to see Purton stay loyal to last-start victor Winning Ways in the 5f Village Handicap (12.15pm).
The Zac-Man must feel there is more to come from the Danny Shum-trained gelding, who picked up a 5lb penalty after breaking his duck at his 22nd attempt in Hong Kong earlier this month.
Connections of runner-up Oversubscribed, who has the plum inside draw, must surely be confident of reversing those placings at the revised weights, though.
Another horse who finally gets a good draw after suffering outside numbers in his last couple of races is BEAUT BEAUT who is housed in gate four.
This useful six-year-old has finally been given a chance by the handicapper and is racing off his last winning mark.
It’s also worth pointing out that he has dropped down in class and the last time he took on similar company he was a clear-cut winner.
With the in-form Alexis Badel in the saddle, he rates a value proposition.
Purton renews his fruitful partnership with trainer John Moore when they team up with top-weight Encouraging in the Shan Kwong Handicap (12.45pm).
Encouraging was a four-length fourth to HK champion Golden Sixty over seven furlongs in a Group Three last month and has an unblemished record of two from two over this track and trip.
However, he does have to give nearly 20lbs to bottom-weight GREEN LUCK, which may prove beyond him in this competitive contest.
Trainer Caspar Fownes rates this son of Street Cry highly and he has run much better than his recent finishing positions suggest.
He now finds himself one pound below his last winning mark and the last time he ran off that he broke the course and distance record in impressive fashion back in September.
Green Luck looks destined to get the run of the race following the early pace and then hopefully make his light weight count in the run for the line.
Beaut Beaut e/w 12.15pm Happy Valley
Green Luck e/w 12.45pm Happy Valley