Hot King Prawn continued his ascent through the grades with a convincing performance in the Class 2 Wong Nai Chung Gap Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley Racecourse on Wednesday night, a win that helped jockey Zac Purton draw five clear in the title race.
“It’s a nice spot to be in,” the Australian said after pulling off a four-timer that took him to 121 wins for the term. Premiership rival Joao Moreira drew a blank from eight rides.
Purton had found himself to be in another nice spot when the John Size-trained Hot King Prawn broke sharply from gate one in the penultimate contest, settling in front of his 11 rivals. Never headed, the talented three-year-old galloped on down the home straight to a two and a quarter-length success at odds of 1.3. That took the grey’s career record to six wins from seven starts.
“It was painless,” Purton said. “The first 150 metres of the race was the most important and once he got out like he did we were in the right place. I just helped him get around this track and obviously he’s got a bit of class on the rest as well.”
The Caspar Fownes-trained Seven Heavens ran on for a smart second at odds of 43/1. The Frankel four-year-old was having his fifth Hong Kong start.
Hot King Prawn scores an easy win under Zac Purton, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Purton set the pattern for the evening in the opener, the Class 5 Mount Cameron Handicap (1800m), urging the Paul O’Sullivan-trained Aeroluminance (133lb), the 2.4 favourite, to a battling verdict over the Moreira-ridden runner-up Penzance (127lb).
An early double was sealed when the 3.5 jolly Buoyant Boy streaked three lengths clear in section one of the Class 4 Shouson Hill Handicap (1200m).
“Aeroluminance was just in the right race,” Purton said. “He drew a nice gate and had a nice run. He made hard work of it, he has more ability than that but he wasn’t winning out of turn, he is what he is.
“With Buoyant Boy, we had a lovely run from the top of The Rock; once the horse in front of me rolled off the fence because it took the corner awkwardly, I was able to scoot through there and ended up on the leader’s back by the time we straightened, rather than being five lengths off them.”
After Hot King Prawn’s make-all romp, the former champion jockey produced 3.6 favourite Super Hoppy for a cosy length win in the finale, section two of the Class 3 Violet Hill Handicap (1200m).
“I was further back than I wanted to be but I was able to track through nicely coming down The Rock and then I just had to find a split – it came and he won well in the end,” he said.
Douglas Whyte went home with a brace in the bag thanks to Kiram in race two and Falcon Turbo in the night’s fifth contest.
The David Ferraris-trained Kiram (133lb) edged out Go Go Win (119lb) by a short-head to take the Class 4 Mount Nicholson Handicap (1650m) after a head-bobbing duel down the stretch. In section one of the Violet Hill Handicap (1200m), Whyte switched Falcon Turbo (117lb) off the rail and snuck inside runner-up High Five (120lb) to claim a neck verdict for trainer David Hall.
Vincent Ho delivered Brave Legend with a wide, late run to win the Class 3 Cricket Club Valley Stakes Handicap, the four-year-old’s first win at the 1650m trip at his third attempt.
“We’ve been running him over too short a trip!” trainer Tony Cruz said after the Choisir gelding, a 7.5 chance, had landed the spoils by a length.
“He won at 1200 (metres) earlier this season but the distance has definitely made the difference tonight, he can go on and win again at this longer trip.”
Karis Teetan teamed up with champion trainer Size to take the second section of the Shouson Hill Handicap (1200m), Noble Delight making all for a game one-length victory at odds of 10/1.
Zac Purton enjoys a four-timer thanks to Super Hoppy in the finale, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club