THERE is no doubting the many thousands of Zac Purton fans will be on good terms with themselves when arriving for the mid-week nine-race programme at Happy Valley.
Not only has the reigning five-time Hong Kong champion jockey just announced he will be riding in the territory again in the 2023-24 season, but he also has a host of winning chances at the city track.
No one rides the tricky and tight circuit better than Purton, although, with 35 winners at the Valley this season, he still has some catching up to do to collar his rival Vincent Ho, who heads the winners list with 41 victories.
The Zac-Man joins forces once again with rookie trainer Jamie Richards, who already has made a big impression in the trainers’ championship with 28 wins so far this season.
Purton and Richards have been a partnership made in heaven, combining for 13 wins and 15 places from just 61 rides.
They team up three times during the action, starting with Happy United, who looks sure to step up on previous efforts in the first division of the Renfrew Handicap (1.15pm) over six furlongs.
A recent trial suggests Flying On The Turf is back to his best in division two of the Renfrew Handicap (2.15pm) over six furlongs.
The seven-year-old had his winning sequence broken when disappointing in March, but a short break and subsequent encouraging track-work looks to have him back in peak condition again.
Richards and Purton’s best chance of success, however, should come from highly progressive speedster HOSS, who lines up in the feature race on the card, the St George’s Challenge Cup Handicap (2.45pm) over six furlongs.
The Australian-bred four-year-old just failed to complete a hat-trick when beaten in a photo finish by rejuvenated Winning Icey, when stepping up in class for the first time on a soft surface last month.
That form reads well in this company and, with perfect underfoot conditions again and an inside draw a positive, he is clearly capable of resuming winning form.
Purton can have further success when he climbs aboard last-start winner HELENE FEELING again, in the Selkirk Handicap (3.15pm) over the extended mile.
The Irish-bred galloper was only having his second race of his career in Hong Kong when stepping up to the extended mile for the first time and proving too strong for rivals last month.
Having showed plenty of promise previously, notably when placed behind smart sprinter Howdeepisyourlove on his debut over six furlongs in March, he clearly has plenty of potential.
With only a five-pound penalty for that success, he should have plenty in hand over his rivals, with consistent handicappers Zone D, Loyal Baby, and well-handicapped Maldives capable of proving the principle threats.
Hoss 2.45pm Happy Valley
Helene Feeling 3.15pm Happy Valley