RACING enthusiasts and punters had better make the most of watching Champion Jockey Zac Purton in action on a nine-race programme at Happy Valley in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
Their talisman, who only needs one more winner to reach his century for the season, will be out of action for the next couple of meetings (he returns at Sha Tin on March 11th) following an enforced holiday for careless riding recently.
Purton, who rode another winning treble at Sha Tin last Sunday, has his card marked in all nine races, and it would come as a major shock if he was still left on 99 wins by the end of the day.
The likes of Quorum in the Un Chau Handicap (10.45am) over the extended mile, and especially A Americ Te Specso in Division One of the Shek Kip Mei Handicap (11.45am) over six furlongs, are capable of providing the Zac-Man with his milestone early on in the card, with plenty of more chances to follow.
Purton renews a successful partnership with a couple of Jamie Richards-trained contenders, both of whom owed their latest successes to the man on top with stunning victories.
Hoss, who seeks to defy his six-pound penalty in Division Two of the Shek Kip Mei Handicap over six furlongs (1.15am), came from the clouds with a daring run to snatch victory on the line over the track and trip a month ago.
More of a worry than his penalty, however, is a wide draw of 11, which maps him to be chasing all of his rivals again.
There is little doubt that, if he gets a trouble-free journey, he is capable of supplementing his last victory but, with the likes of rivals King Eccellente, Fortune Carrier, and bottom-weight Miracles against him, he is no certainty.
Purton provided one of the rides of the season when overcoming the coffin-box outside draw of 12 to win on ARMOUR EAGLE over the course and distance in January.
Unfortunately, the five-year-old is going to have to do it all over again, having been saddled with a similar draw again in the Nam Shan Handicap (2.50pm) over six furlongs.
If that wasn’t bad enough, statistics show that no horse from the outside box has won over six furlongs on the ‘A’ track in the last three seasons, with a record of 0 from 85.
Armour Eagle recently found himself in ‘no man’s land’ when dictating the pace – something that pilot Lyle Hewitson didn’t want to do – when folding late on to finish a respectable fifth behind Jolly Ruler.
This time, with his favourite jockey back on (both his wins have come with Purton aboard) and the likelihood of a fast speed-tempo allowing him to find some cover during the contest, he can prove the statistics all wrong.
It may also pay to include obvious threat Howdeepisyourlove, closely matched with the selection on their form in January, in a forecast.
Armour Eagle 2.50pm Happy Valley