He’s already one of the most successful jockeys in Hong Kong racing history and Zac Purton’s storied career hit another milestone on Sunday, racking up his 1,300th winner.
The four-time champion reached the mark aboard the David Hayes-trained King’s Capital in the Class Four Ngau Tau Kok Handicap (1,400m) at Sha Tin.
Purton, who made the move to Hong Kong in 2007 and is second in all-time winners in the jurisdiction, was pleased with the achievement.
“It’s nice, of course. It’s always nice to tick these milestones off,” he said. “It was good to get over the line and it’s nice to ride another winner for ‘Hayesy’, too. I feel good. I feel fresh. My body feels good, so [I’ll] just keep going.”
The 38-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down either and during the week, he even broached the possibility of breaking Douglas Whyte’s record of 1,813 winners.
“I always told Dougie that I wouldn’t stay around long enough to break his record but, here I am [at 1,300 wins] and 1,400 wins will hopefully tick over by the end of the season, so it starts to make it feel quite real and obviously then becomes a possibility,” said Purton, who brought up his 1,301st winner with Jimmy Ting Koon-ho’s My Sugar in the last race of the day.
“So, I’m not going to say ‘no’ [to attempting to break the record]. It will just come down to the support I get – and whether I continue to get it, and if I do, I’ll just keep chipping away and you never know.”
Hayes was also chuffed to be part of Purton’s milestone, acknowledging his support when things weren’t going his way last season.
“He really helped me settle in, he was good and a big help through my quiet run,” Hayes said. “He won on some important ones for me last year, they weren’t big wins but they were wins.”
King’s Capital looked the winner a long way out but felt the pinch late and only scampered home to beat Solar Power by a short-head.
“Coming into the straight, I thought Derek [Leung Ka-chun’s] horse would give a little bit. I made sure with the [big] weight that I got after him to make sure he didn’t get away from me,” Purton said.
“Once I got past, I thought it was going to be an easy win but my bloke – not having won before – he knows how to get beat and he tried it again.”
The pink and purple colours sported by King’s Capital also hold a special place in Hayes’ heart, with owner Dr Gene Tsoi Wai-wang also having 2003 Hong Kong Derby winner Elegant Fashion with the stable.
“In my last year she was my best horse, she won the Derby and to turn back the clock and win for Gene is great,” said Hayes, who had a treble on the day with Lord Thunder and Super Wealthy also saluting.
“[King’s Capital has] acclimatised, he’s a second-season horse. I know he only just won but the 133 [pounds] with a small horse [is tough]. Now he’ll go up in class and down in weight and I think he’ll be hard to beat next time too.
“[I was] very, very nervous [late] – I thought he was going to win easy at the 200m, 100m and then I was praying at the winning post.”