De Sousa second as Purton fires in two winners to claim title
Hong Kong-based Australian Zac Purton prevailed in a star-studded Longines International Jockeys' Championship at Happy Valley on Wednesday, beating British champion Silvestre de Sousa into second place.
The 34-year-old Purton won two of the first three legs in the four-race series, accruing enough points to ensure that only De Sousa, who had finished runner-up in the opener and won the second, could overhaul him in the final contest of the 12-man competition which also featured stars such as Ryan Moore, Hugh Bowman and Joao Moreira.
De Sousa's mount finished unplaced behind the Pierre-Charles Boudot-ridden winner – a victory that propelled Boudot into third – and Purton walked away with the title and a cheque for HK$500,000 (approximately £48,000/€54,000).
He said: “I came into this thinking I had quite ordinary rides, but it turned out well and I’m pleased to have won as I’ve gone close a couple of times. You need a lot of luck, and I got it in two races.”
His two victories were achieved aboard Our Hero and Let's Take It Easy.
Purton, who has ridden more than 750 winners since moving to Hong Kong in 2007, is no stranger to success at such events having won the World Super Jockeys series in Japan in 2012 – but triumphing at Happy Valley was extra special.
"It's pleasing to get the result at home and in front of my home crowd," he said.
Another local favourite in Moreira whipped the crowd into a frenzy with a treble in the three races preceding the International Jockeys' Championship, but he failed to hit the scoreboard in the main event.
Moore, a dual winner of the competition, accrued four points – Purton totalled 24, with De Sousa on 18 and Boudot 16.
The attendance of 29,294 was marginally down on last year's 29,601, which remains a record for the meeting this century, but turnover of HK$1.308 billion is the highest amount wagered at the International Jockeys' Championship meeting.
Zac Purton 24 points
Silvestre de Sousa 18 points
Pierre-Charles Boudot 16 points
Hugh Bowman 12 points
Flavien Prat 6 points
Leandro Henrique 4 points
Ryan Moore 4 points
Keita Tosaki 4 points
For the best coverage of the Hong Kong international meeting, visit racingpost.com