Zac Purton maintained his lead over Joao Moreira in the race for the Hong Kong jockeys’ title as he partnered a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
Purton was one win ahead of his rival before racing began, but his brace ensures he heads to Sha Tin on Sunday with a lead of 116 to 114 over his fellow three-time champion.
Purton hit the board on Compassion Spirit in the Mount Kellett Handicap while Victoriam was a comfortable winner of the second division of the Cheung Lin Shan Handicap.
Of Victoriam, Purton said: “He carried a heavy weight tonight and he’s had to come from a bit of an awkward gate (seven), but he’s shown there that he’s a little bit more versatile than having to be up there breaking the wind.
“He’s learning so I think there’s more there.”
Compassion Spirit was also a comfortable winner and Purton added: “I wasn’t surprised by that, he showed last time that he was improving.
“It was just a matter of getting a nice run from the gate, which wasn’t easy early; it looked like we were in trouble but fortunately the race opened up for us a little bit, he got a nice run and he did the job well.”
Smart Leader gave Moreira his win in the first division of the Cheung Lin Shan Handicap, securing a gutsy three-quarter-length success.
Moreira said: “He was ready, he felt ready on the way to the gate. He had a good draw (two), circumstances meant that we were able to make good use of it and he responded well when I needed him to.”
John Moore and Vagner Borges teamed up for another win with Beauty Happy in the Ma Kong Shan Handicap while Antoine Hamelin landed a double with Victorious Leader and Surrealism.
“I’m very happy – if I come back next season and can win like this I will be very happy. I try to do the best every time and I have good support from trainers and owners,” he said.
“It’s very different here, there’s a lot of respect in the jockeys’ room here and you see that respect in the races.
“It’s competitive but there is respect in a race and that is important because it makes it easier to ride a race. We have only 20 jockeys and while it’s hard because the competition level is so high, it’s easy because you know everyone out there knows their job. When you ride with the best, you learn more.”