(Bloodhorse)

Zac Purton’s hard work has paid off in Hong Kong. Photo: Kenneth Chan

After a season-long duel, Zac Purton ended Joao Moreira’s run as Hong Kong’s champion jockey as he held on through the final program of the year July 15 at Sha Tin for a two-win edge.

Purton had only one winner on the 11-race card Sunday, but that was enough to survive a triple by Moreira. Purton ended the year with 136 winners to 134 for the three-time champion Moreira, who is leaving Hong Kong for new challenges in Japan. Demonstrating the duo’s dominance, Keris Teetan finished third with 52 winners.

“It’s been a long, damp day,” Purton said after he competed through the rain. “It’s good to finally put it to bed. It’s a relief. Joao’s a fierce competitor, and we both gave it our absolute all.”

Moreira, a fan favorite since his arrival from Singapore, was sent off with a rousing ovation.

“The relationship I have with the fans here in Hong Kong is something special, and I really do love them all,” the Brazilian said. “All of these great times I’ve had over here, including today, it is something that I won’t just remember, but it’s something that will always sit in my heart.”

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