After a titanic ten-month tussle between Joao Moreira and Zac Purton, the Aussie has come out on top and was yesterday (Sunday) confirmed as the 2019-20 Hong Kong champion jockey.
On a day at Sha Tin where betting turnover topped £195 million, Purton, ranked world #4 in the TRC Global Rankings, rode a double and Moreira (world #25) a treble, leaving the gap at seven wins heading into the final raceday of the season, where Moreira is having to serve a suspension.
Purton will therefore have his named etched onto the honours list for a fourth time, one more than Brazilian Moreira, and could yet add more wins to his tally of 145 with the season finale still to come at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
It’s all to play for in the trainer’s championship, however, with three men in contention heading into Wednesday. Ricky Yiu heads the list with 67 wins, ahead of Francis Lui and Tony Cruz, who are tied on 63. Of the three, only Cruz has been champion previously.
Whatever happens, the winners won’t be celebrating on Thursday night at the annual Champions Awards ceremony and dinner, which has been cancelled as one of a series of measures the Hong Kong Jockey Club is taking because of the worsening coronavirus situation.
The HKJC said, “We are looking into an alternate format that enables us to continue the presentation of the awards to the relevant horse owners, trainers and jockeys to recognise their outstanding achievements and contributions to Hong Kong’s racing during the 2019-20 season without compromising public health. We will make further announcement as soon as possible.”