Two of the world’s finest jockeys gave further proof of their excellence at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Hong Kong’s champion, Zac Purton, scored a spectacular six-timer on the ten-race card, and two of the other races went to British champ Silvestre De Sousa to help him celebrate the news that his hugely successful stint there has been extended another month until the end of March.
We have had occasion before to lament De Sousa’s relatively lowly standing in the TRC Global Rankings (he currently lies 72nd). Yet, while the rest of the world (including many of the leading connections in Britain) has barely failed to recognise his extraordinary talent, that is certainly not the case of Hong Kong, where they just can’t get enough of him.
Sunday’s double put his total for the season there to 35, which puts him fourth in the jockeys’ table, behind only Purton (78), Karis Teetan (52) and the currently suspended Joao Moreira (41). De Sousa’s stint in Hong Kong only began in November - two months after the season started.
As race analyst Graham Cunningham reported on the Hong Kong Jockey Club website on Sunday, “Silvestre De Sousa has been one of very few riders able to keep within hailing distance of Purton in recent weeks.”
Keeping up with Purton is of course something even the best are having trouble with just now. The Australian, the world #7 and picked by James Willoughby last week as TRC’s Jockey of the Week, was particularly impressive aboard Tianchi Monster in the Tai Hing Handicap. The New Zealand-bred may now take his chance in the Hong Kong Derby on March 17.
“Zac is on fire,” said trainer Chris So. “That was a perfect ride. We were worried about getting stuck in behind from stall 1 if there was no pace, but Zac did his job and, of course, we’d love to go for the Derby. It’s not easy to get a Derby horse but he is a proven stayer and also improving.”
Purton is likely to ride the Frankie Lor-trained Dark Dream in the Derby.