David Hayes credits Zac Purton with helping lay the foundations for his stable’s blistering start to the 2021/22 season after the champion jockey became only the second rider in Hong Kong racing history to post 1,300 wins at Sha Tin on Sunday.
On a day of landmark success, Purton’s phenomenal feat was overshadowed by Blake Shinn’s stunning quartet as Hayes surged to the top of the trainers’ championship with a second Sha Tin treble in as many meetings.
Fittingly, Hayes and Purton combined with King’s Capital in the second section of the Class 4 Ngau Tau Kok Handicap (1400m) as Purton joined 13-time champion Douglas Whyte in an elite club as the only jockeys to amass 1,300 winners or more in Hong Kong.
“It’s nice, of course. It’s always nice to tick these milestones off. It was good to get over the line and it’s nice to ride another winner for ‘Hayesey’, too,” said Purton, currently riding without injury issues, unlike last season. “I feel good. I feel fresh. My body feels good, so I just keep going.”
Having already telegraphed long-range intentions of possibly attempting to overtake Whyte’s Hong Kong record of 1,813 victories, 38-year-old Purton is also in pursuit of a fifth jockeys’ championship having prevailed in 2013/14, 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20.
Purton finished the day with a double and outright leadership in the jockeys’ championship with six victories after partnering Jimmy Ting’s My Sugar to success in the Class 3 Kwun Tong Handicap (1400m) – and 1,301 triumphs overall.
Owned in the same interests as 2003 Hong Kong Derby winner Elegant Fashion, King’s Capital gave Hayes the middle leg of his treble, prompting an appreciative tribute to Purton.
“He (Purton) really helped me settle in, he was good and a big help through my quiet run,” the dual Hong Kong champion trainer said of his return to Sha Tin last year. “He won on some important ones for me last year, they weren't big wins - but they were wins.”
Hayes leads the trainers’ championship with six wins, three clear of Dennis Yip.
David Hayes and Zac Purton, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club