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Purton slots three-timer as Copartner Prance makes it five in a row

Zac Purton’s relentless push towards a seventh Hong Kong jockeys’ championship continued at Sha Tin on Saturday when the Australian snared a treble highlighted by a fifth successive victory on Copartner Prance in the Class 2 Lung Mun Road Handicap (1200m).

Copartner Prance edges out Duke Wai, photo Hong Kong Jockey Club

Purton (114 wins) increased his lead in the 2023/24 championship over Karis Teetan (77) to 37 wins with only nine meetings remaining after victories on Copartner Prance for Francis Lui, Dennis Yip’s Fast Network and Stunning Peach for Tony Cruz.

Copartner Prance earned a PPG Bonus of HK$1 million as well as HK$1.59 million in prize money and improved his record to five wins from nine starts with a gripping win over Duke Wai and then survived an objection from the runner-up’s rider Teetan.

“It was another good effort. He began really well which helped – it was very fast mid-race – and I just waited for the right time but he was good to the line. He just seems to keep doing enough,” Purton said.

Copartner Prance’s victory left Lui and Pierre Ng tied on 61 wins at the top of the Hong Kong trainers’ championship with Ng holding sway by virtue of more seconds – 48 to 46.

Purton and Yip – who combined to land the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) with Massive Sovereign in March – struck with debutant Fast Network in the Class 4 Chai Wai Road Handicap (1000m). A three-year-old by Wrote, the gelding was well supported on the strength of impressive trial performances.

“He trialled very good and also overseas, his trial was very good. I was watching the trial and I thought 'we must buy this horse'. He's done the job. Hopefully he will keep improving and I think for the future, later he will stay longer. Right now, he's just learning,” Yip said.

Stunning Peach delivered the third leg of Purton’s treble with success in the Class 3 POLA Cup Handicap (1800m). The three-year-old was Group 1-placed in Ireland and France when he raced as Islandsinthestream for Joseph O’Brien.

Purton was impressed with the colt’s Hong Kong breakthrough, which was accompanied by a PP Bonus of HK$1.5 million.

“It was good. He drew the right gate (barrier two) to have the right run and the tempo in the early and mid-stages set it up for him but he had to carry the weight (135lb) and come with a long sweeping run.

“Although he came to the end of his run probably about 100 (metres) out, his class got him through. He’s heading in the right way and as long as he keeps on taking those steps, we’ll be happy.”

Cruz registered his 50th win of the campaign when Angus Chung piloted Beauty Glory to victory in the Class 3 Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road Handicap (1400m).

Hugh Bowman predicted a bright future for John Size-trained The Winnabe after the grey maintained an unbeaten record after two starts with an impressive victory in the Class 4 Pok Fu Lam Public Riding School Handicap (1200m).

“He was very professional, he’s shown us a nice bit of talent from the time we started working with him and he’s continued to progress,” Bowman said after posting his 60th win of the season. “It was a strong performance, he had to navigate a bit of a path and he did that with a sense of maturity, which is encouraging.

“What I liked the most is that when I got out after the leader, I then needed a second effort and he did it with ease – he’s got a bright future.”

Bowman sealed a double aboard Enjoy Golf for Frankie Lor in the Class 4 Lei Yue Public Riding School Handicap (1400m).

Lo Pan Spirit continued an impressive rise with victory in the Class 4 Hong Kong Riding For The Disabled Association Cup Handicap (1200m) under Harry Bentley. By Charm Spirit, the three-year-old controlled the tempo before spearing clear in 1m 09.37s to improve his record to two wins and a third from three starts.

“He's a nice horse and he has a big stride. I think he will keep improving as well. Maybe next season he needs a bit further - that will be better for him I think,” Ting said after reaching 10 wins for the season. “If the horse is eating well and is healthy then I think I can run him one more time.”

Ka Ying Victory made it two straight-course wins in a row with a dogged performance under Alexis Badel in the Class 3 Tuen Mun Public Riding School Handicap (1000m). Continuing David Hall’s strong season, the Charm Spirit gelding slotted his fourth victory from eight starts and is unbeaten in three attempts over the 1000m course.

David Hayes’ patience with Ariel was rewarded when the gelding triumphed at his 26th Hong Kong start, landing the Class 4 Pok Fu Lam Park Handicap (1600m). The gelding had logged eight seconds and two thirds before saluting today.

Antoine Hamelin ended a 44-ride run of outs when Size-trained Noble Win notched his first Hong Kong win with success in the Class 5 Butterfly Bay Handicap (1400m).

“I’m very glad to win this one,” Hamelin said. “Last run was really good, today I had a better draw (barrier four) than last time and the horse was even more focused and concentrated and did everything well. I’m very happy with the win.”

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday night

                      
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