Purton and Moreira go head to head for Hong Kong Derby glory
8.35 Sha Tin
The BMW Hong Kong Derby 2019 | 1m2f | 4yo | Turf
Champion jockey Zac Purton is aiming to get the better of old foe Joao Moreira once again on Sunday when the star riders face off on the two leading contenders in the BMW Hong Kong Derby.
Purton, 36, edged out Moreira in a thrilling battle to be champion rider in Hong Kong last year and partners second favourite Dark Dream in Sha Tin's most prestigious race.
Standing in his way is favourite Waikuku and Moreira, and Purton said: “This is the race all owners in Hong Kong want to win and the race they all dream about winning. It’s the most important race every year.”
The Australian jockey is seeking a second Hong Kong Derby triumph having scored on Luger in 2015 and believes Dark Dream’s chances hinge on there being some give in the ground.
“He’s had a faultless preparation,” he said. “It was a wet track when he put in his best performance and if he’s going to be a leading contender then he’s going to need the dig in the track. A firm track might pull him up a bit.”
Waikuku, formerly trained in Ireland by John Oxx, is favourite for Sunday’s race after a string of victories, but he has been drawn widest of all in stall 14.
Purton said: “Waikuku was very impressive on his last start under a big weight in a good time. He looks the one to beat although he has been drawn widest of all in barrier 14. That gives the rest of us a little bit more of a chance but he’s still going to be very hard to beat.”
Purton knows what it is like to be hard to beat as the man responsible for riding the brilliant Beauty Generation, who was ranked joint-best horse in the world alongside City Of Light and Winx in the latest Longines World Thoroughbred Rankings.
However, there are no plans to bring Beauty Generation, who is 8-1 favourite for the Queen Anne Stakes, to Royal Ascot in the summer.
“Royal Ascot is not on the table for the owners and they’d much prefer to go to Japan for the Yasuda Kinen in June,” Purton said. “That’s been spoken about if he’s able to win his next two starts at the beginning and end of April.
“He seems to be getting better and better. He glides across the ground and the other horses trying to compete with him fall in a hole, while the horses back in the field who are spotting him seven or eight lengths can’t catch him either because he doesn’t stop. He’s a unique horse and he’s a pleasure to ride.”
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