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Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP
Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP

Zac Purton secured his fifth Hong Kong jockeys’ title on Saturday and immediately praised his rival, Joao Moreira, for his role in the climax to the season.

“We both deserved to win it,” Purton told the HK Jockey Club website. “Every title is special in its own way and I want to pay respect to Joao as well. It’s been a difficult season and difficult last three years for all of us in HK through the lockdowns, having to home school the kids and we’ve both had our health issues.

“It's been tough and energy sapping and I think we’re both empty and both right at the end of our tether. It’s nice we can close it today and both go on holiday,” said Purton.

Purton and Moreira travelled to the final meeting at Sha-Tin racecourse with 132 winners apiece. However, a four-timer by Purton secured the title with Moreira drawing a blank.

The best finish between the pair came in the Class 1 Mile Handicap when Purton and Moreira were involved in a thrilling finish with the former prevailing by a shorthead. That winner was on Turin Redson — a horse from the stable of Douglas Whyte. The Durban-born trainer won the Hong Kong championship for 13 years from 2001 to 2013.

“He came from behind and he upended them so it was a good effort,” said Whyte with Turin Redsun providing him with his 45th winner of the campaign.

Purton’s success added to his title wins in 2014, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Whyte also provided SA champion jockey Lyle Hewitson with a winner at the final meeting with the rider who had 264 winners during the 2020/21 SA season scoring on HK Dragon.

Young Luke Ferraris went one better riding a double to end his first season on a high. “It’s taken some time to ride my first double but better late than never,” he quipped.

“I’m grateful for the support especially from Mr Cruz. He’s been instrumental in my career in Hong Kong so far,” added Ferraris.

Meanwhile, top Australian trainer Gai Waterhouse has been on a shopping trip to Britain where she bought Epsom Derby second, Hoo Ya Mal, for £1.2m.

Waterhouse, 67, who has saddled more than 150 grade 1 winners, is hoping the colt can provide her with her second Melbourne Cup success after Fiorente’s victory in 2012.

“The Melbourne Cup is the dream but I think he’s a weight-for-age horse and I like him hugely,” said Waterhouse.

“We saw Hoo Ya Mal race second in the Derby and put an offer in straight away. The owner thought about it but said he wanted to go to the Goffs sale on the eve of Royal Ascot.

“The reserve was £900,000, so you know you’re going to have to pay a million plus and I think we bought him well, especially as since then the form has been so incredibly strong and consistent.”

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