Hong Kong diary: Purton out to close deficit on suspended title rival Moreira
Joao Moreira enjoyed a profitable Sunday, riding a treble to move three ahead of Zac Purton in the race for the jockeys' title, but the Brazilian sits Wednesday out at Happy Valley due to a careless riding ban.
Purton had to settle for just the one winner on Sunday aboard the improving Mighty Giant, on what was an eventful day as he lodged a complaint against the starter after finishing third aboard Jade Fortune.
The seven-year-old looked unlucky, coming home strongly after blowing the start as Purton struggled to re-position a wayward weight cloth, and the stewards duly advised starter Tony Speechley "to ensure there is clear communication with his assistant starters behind the barriers so that he is fully aware of any horses or riders experiencing difficulties."
In-form Schofield hoping Above can go beyond again
Keeping pace with Purton and Moreira is a tall order for any Hong Kong rider but Chad Schofield has been making a good fist of it and notched his 12th winner in the last ten meetings when completing a treble aboard the progressive Team Power on Sunday.
Still only 26, Schofield is now just four short of his previous seasonal best of 38 winners in a Hong Kong season, and lies fifth on the jockeys' ladder table despite having had fewer rides than eight of the top ten.
"I've been getting better rides and from that comes winners and from winners comes confidence," said Schofield, whose full book of nine at Happy Valley on Wednesday includes last month's runaway Sha Tin Class 4 scorer Above in the Heather Handicap (12.45).
Trainer John Moore feels Above is "doing everything right" ahead of his Class 3 bow, while Schofield adds that the progressive four-year-old "has a nice galloping weight and you'd think he'd be hard to beat again."
Millard hoping for a sequel to 'How To Train Your Dragon' in QEII
Schofield will also be aboard a familiar British face when Glorious Dragon takes a third crack at Hong Kong's champion middle distance stayer in Sunday's QEII Cup.
The grey showed useful form when known as Stephensons Rocket for Ed Walker in 2018 and moves up to Group 1 level after a very unlucky third under Ryan Moore in Class 2 company on his latest start.
Ever the realist, Millard concedes "it looks like we're running for place money" but is happy to let Glorious Dragon take his chance along with stablemate Elusive State, who moves up in distance after an abortive trip to Dubai for the Godolphin Mile.
Millard, who enjoyed one of the greatest days of his career when the exceptional Ambitious Dragon won the QEII in 2011, said: "One of the reasons we are going for this is because it's a small field and there are no overseas horses. Exultant looks outstanding but both my horses will be in there doing their best."
Galaxy set to take the high road
The advantage of a low draw in Happy Valley sprints is hardly a secret but post position can be even more important than usual when the rail is wide in the C+3 position.
Such is the case at the city track this Wednesday and, as the accompanying graphic shows, stalls one and two have an exceptional record in 1200m contests when the rail is out.
That will come as good news for Purton, who partners the useful Dancing Fighter from stall two, while Amazing Kiwi has drawn one and comes firmly into this at his best.
Schofield has work to do on Ping Hai Galaxy from stall nine but John Size's grey has two solid pieces of Valley form to his credit - including a 159-1 boilover in February - and the wide barrier shouldn't stop him going close in a race where half the field are very hard to fancy.
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