Zac Purton set the seal on another championship-winning season in Hong Kong as he rode a double on Wednesday’s final card of the campaign at Happy Valley.
Purton had already secured a third straight title ahead of the closing meeting after claiming a double at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Rival Joao Moreira bagged a hat-trick on the same card – but he was suspended for the concluding fixture of the 2019-20 season, meaning Purton could enjoy a victory lap after landing his fourth championship in total.
Purton did not let up though, partnering Oversubscribed to victory in the Tsun Yuen Handicap and Kinda Cool in the second division of the Tsap Tseung Handicap to ensure he signed off on a high with 147 winners.
Purton – looking forward to a rest after his “hardest-fought” season – said of Kinda Cool: “He’s always shown he’s got a little bit of ability, he just hasn’t quite been able to put it together.
“The long straight at Sha Tin’s been testing him and you could see here even with the short straight he was starting to flounder the last bit – he needs to strengthen up.”
Ricky Yiu took his first trainers’ title after The Runner’s win in the Min Fat Handicap made it impossible for nearest challengers Tony Cruz and Francis Liu to catch him.
Cruz had got a crucial win on the board with Power King earlier on the card, but his California Rad went down by a neck to the late thrust of The Runner to hand the title to Yiu.
Yiu said: “I was four in front, so this last meeting at the Valley, to win three or four would be a miracle – it’s a big ask. When I won the last race at Sha Tin, I knew the chance was mine.”
The card also marked the final day in the Hong Kong ranks for legendary trainer John Moore.
Moore is a seven times champion, but Hong Kong Jockey Club rules dictate that retirement is compulsory at the age of 70, so the trainer is set to continue his stellar career in his native Australia, where he will try to fulfil a lifelong ambition in saddling a Group One winner in that country.
The Moore stable has sent out the last six runners to be named Hong Kong Horse of the Year – Military Attack (2013), Designs On Rome (2014), Able Friend (2015), Werther (2016), Rapper Dragon (2017) and Beauty Generation (2018 and 2019) – with the likes of Viva Pataca and Xtension also featuring for the trainer over the years.
Purton, who is Beauty Generation’s regular rider, said: “It’s going to be very hard to replace him. I don’t know if you can replace like for like.”
Moore had five runners for his Hong Kong swansong, but all finished unplaced.
Racing in Hong Kong will resume with the 2020/21 season opener at Sha Tin on Saturday, September 5.