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HomeSportsZac Purton chases HKIR mounts after missing out on Romantic Warrior: ‘I...

Zac Purton chases HKIR mounts after missing out on Romantic Warrior: ‘I wanted to ride it’ | HK Racing


Champion jockey Zac Purton has voiced his frustration at missing out on the plum ride on Romantic Warrior as the most successful rider in Longines Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) history faces having his fewest assignments on Sha Tin’s marquee day in 10 years.

Purton, whose nine HKIR victories place him one in front of Gerald Mosse and two ahead of Olivier Peslier, Ryan Moore and Joao Moreira, said he told Danny Shum Chap-shing he wanted to ride Romantic Warrior once it was clear Karis Teetan would be unable to partner last term’s Hong Kong Derby winner.

In the days leading up to Romantic Warrior’s first-up race, which the northern hemisphere-bred four-year-old galloper won in class record time, Shum said he had asked Purton to ride his stable star.

“He has a good jockey – James McDonald – and he can help a lot. I spoke to the owner and with Karis out, we were uncertain about his return, so to be safe, I actually asked Zac Purton to ride, but he was already booked [to ride Beauty Joy] for Tony Cruz,” Shum said at Sha Tin trackwork on November 15.

But Purton, who partnered Romantic Warrior in both of his barrier trials before his reappearance, has refuted Shum’s version of events.

“Danny didn’t offer it to me. I know in the press he said he did, but he didn’t. I wanted to ride it. He didn’t give it to me,” Purton said in the aftermath of Romantic Warrior’s Group Two Jockey Club Cup (2,000m) romp under Kiwi gun for hire McDonald.

“He kept telling me the horse was going to run in the [Jockey Club] Mile. Of course, I had California Spangle, so I wasn’t able to ride him in the Mile.

“But I always said, if you run in the 2,000m, I’d be free. He kept telling me he was going to run in the Mile.”

Danny Shum pats Romantic Warrior after his Group Two Jockey Club Cup (2,000m) win under James McDonald.

Purton is on the lookout for HKIR engagements in the longest two of the four Group One features on Sha Tin’s big day.

If Purton does not add to his half-full HKIR book that comprises Lucky Sweynesse in the Hong Kong Sprint and California Spangle in the Hong Kong Mile, the star Australian will rock up at this year’s marquee meeting with fewer than three Group One assignments for the first time since 2012.

Chevalier Cup pair again take the road less travelled to HKIR

In 2012, Purton – who did not win the first of his Hong Kong premierships until the 2013-2014 season – did not participate in either the Sprint or the Cup, but he did take out the Mile on Ambitious Dragon and finish 10th in the Vase aboard Scarlet Camellia.

It would be quite something if Purton ends up with fewer HKIR rides than Joao Moreira, who is set to steer Japanese raiders Resistencia (Sprint), Lei Papale (Cup) and Glory Vase (Vase) less than three weeks after withdrawing his Jockey Club licence.

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