Purton poised to end lean streak
Zac Purton is hoping for help from the all Mighty as he bids to snap his longest losing streak for four years at Sha Tin on Saturday.
HK's champion has ridden 30 consecutive losers in the last two weeks but has several strong chances among his nine weekend rides including Flying Mighty (8.35), Mighty Power (9.05) and Mighty Giant (10.45).
Purton has been around too long to fret about small samples, simply saying "it will change, it always does." And in Mighty Giant, who runs in the featured Argyle Handicap at 10.45, he reunites with a gelding who chases a five timer after a gutsy course and distance success.
Giant on the rise in search of five timer
Champion trainer Ricky Yiu feels his muscular chestnut is "one hundred per cent ready" for Group races but Purton is a little more cautious as Mighty Giant takes on a field including the highly promising Sky Field as well as the lightly-raced Lucky Express and also Maximus, who won three from three in France before beating the smart Berlin Tango at Kempton when under the care of Jane Chapple-Hyam.
"Mighty Giant has done everything right," said Purton. "He continues to do things some horses can't, he gets up there on fast speeds and raises the bar every time. It was a tough effort last time so you've got to question how much it took out of him but Ricky's happy with him and there's nothing to suggest he's not going to run well."
Fownes hoping headstrong Field can blossom again
Mighty Giant's running style is one of controlled aggression but key rival Sky Field needs to channel his energy more evenly as he ascends to Class 2 following three late-pouncing 1200m wins which flashed brilliance tinged with a measure of wilfulness.
That headstrong nature was evident again in a recent morning trial and Caspar Fownes hasn't ruled out the prospect of a change in tactics for Sky Field's 1400m debut from a rating of 88.
"Sky Field's ability's not in question, it's just he's still doing a few things wrong," he said. "It doesn't matter if he wants to get out on the lead as he might just switch off in front. Trust me, he's very much a triple figures horse, that's not an issue, but he's probably six to twelve months away from being physically and mentally at his peak."
Express on track for extra furlong
Yiu has suggested that Saturday's feature revolves around Mighty Giant and Sky Field - and he may be right - but Class 2 is a hard school in HK and this £220,000 handicap certainly doesn't lack depth.
Mighty Giant looks the safer option of the two market leaders, especially if Purton isn't pressured early on. However, Lucky Express looks more than ready for this step up to 1400m after a slightly unlucky passage in a hot sprint two weeks ago.
Add in the reliable Ballistic King and General's Delight (with the assistance of Jerry Chau's valuable 10lb claim) for the first time and there could be some appealing Quinella value for those brave enough to take the chance that Sky Field's eagerness might prove costly.
Frustrating Lockheed seeks belated takeoff
Losing runs are all relative and Lockheed’s barren patch, which stretches back to a Goodwood maiden win for William Haggas in July 2016, makes Purton’s recent lean spell look nothing in comparison.
“He’s had plenty of chances but just can’t seem to get it done,” said the Aussie. “He’s loomed up on a number of occasions but he just doesn’t quite go through with it. One day he’ll win but when that day’s going to be, I don’t know.”
Saturday’s Class 3 Dundas Handicap at 10.10 provides the chance for Danny Shum’s gelding to salute at the 24th attempt in HK and, in theory, the grey is fairly treated from the same mark as when splitting subsequent winners Sky Field and Cruising over course and distance.
“Lockheed travelled into it like he was going to deliver a lot and didn’t give much at all which is why he was able to get run down,” he added. “Right from the first day he came here he’s been an exceptionally good worker. He can work with anything but it’s that last little bit when you want an effort he can’t quite give it to you.”