By Declan Schuster, HKJC
Zac Purton heads to Happy Valley on Wednesday (23 October) night looking to banish memories of Beauty Generation’s shock weekend defeat with a couple of smart rides in Class 2.
Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year met with his first reversal in 18 months when only third behind 16/1 winner Rise High in Sunday’s G2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m) but Purton is looking forward not back.
“It’s the same race as last year, when he nearly got beat – it’s a bogey race for him,” he said. “It’s because they have so long off in the off-season and he runs so well first time out, and then has to back up very quickly after that.
“The edge is just off him and that, I’m sure, contributed to his performance. He has a nice break between now and his next race, and let’s not forget, last season he broke the track record at his third run in so I expect him to bounce back.”
Purton has a full book of nine rides on Wednesday, including the mount on Yee Cheong Baby (133lb) in the Class 2 Ivictory Handicap (1200m). Jimmy Ting’s charge returned with a fifth-place effort first-up for the season on the dirt track but looked impressive when drawing 14-and-a-half-lengths clear in a recent barrier trial.
“We did see Voyage Warrior win a trial by 10 (lengths) and he got whopped. Those trials sometimes can be deceptive and they both trialled on the same morning: there was a very heavy leader’s bias and they’re both similar horses that like to roll along.” Purton said.
“The margin was extremely flattering, especially when you look at the depth of the horses he was up against in that trial. But I thought he went through his work nicely and he’ll be better for his first-up run.”
A two-year-old victor at Rosehill pre-import, the Sebring gelding finished second at G3 level behind Graff, who subsequently earnt just over A$1 million and placed at G1 level, as well as finishing fifth in The Everest (1200m) at Randwick in 2018.
Yee Cheong Baby won his first two starts in Hong Kong, both at the Valley, before failing to sparkle on dirt last time, after which he was found to have blood in his trachea.
“I just think 1200 (metres) on the dirt was testing for him first time out. He comes back to the grass after he’s already had a run and he’s had another trial since, so I think he’ll probably be better placed this time,” Purton said.