Joao Moreira and Zac Purton ended Sunday tied on 117 winners apiece with sixteen meetings to go in the race for the jockeys’ championship in Hong Kong.
Brazilian Moreira was in treble form at Sha Tin to draw level with defending champion Purton, who notched a sole success.
Moreira brought up his hat-trick in the final contest of the day through Inner Flame in the Pak Sha O Handicap, having struck in the penultimate event with Picken. He had started proceedings with victory aboard Sky Gem.
“Zac can’t say he’s going to be the winner and neither can I because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks and months,” Moreira said.
He added of the Douglas Whyte-trained Inner Flame: “He did that the hard way, which he had to do from that gate (11); he was attacked early and he had to hold on and fight, with horses coming at him at the end – only good horses can do what he’s done.
“I’m very pleased to be sitting on such a nice horse for the Douglas Whyte stable. Douglas’ patience has paid off, he was going to run him another day but decided to wait and I really think that patience was the key to this horse being able to come back and win again.
Purton got on the scoresheet with Classic Posh in the Wong Ma Tei Handicap.
Elsewhere, Righteous Doctrine gave trainer Michael Chang his biggest win in almost a year with a strong late run under Karis Teetan to finish on top in the Hoi Ha Handicap.
Chang famously oversaw the career of Rich Tapestry, the only Hong Kong-trained horse to have won a Group One or any race in North America as well as notable scores in Dubai. But the past few seasons have been lean, and this may prove to be a significant success.
Chang said: “He really made my day today – he was strong!
“I told the jockey to relax him and make him finish – and he finished really strongly. I could see that he was coming home strongly from 200 metres out but then suddenly he got chopped up by the other horse.
“I think he’s improving still.”
The Hong Kong Jockey Club requires trainers on a single site licence to achieve 16 wins or failing that 14 wins plus at least HK$21 million in prize-money.
The win gave Chang his 15th triumph of the campaign, while the run of President’s Choice into second place in the finale raised the stable’s purse money to HK$20.115 million.
Chang achieved 40 wins for the term in the 2012/13 season but has notched less than 20 wins in each season since.
He said: “Honestly, I never feel pressure – I know our team will always do a good job so I have no complaints.
“We’re getting a few more newcomers soon but they’ve all been stuck because of the coronavirus.”