By Chris Smith and James Willoughby (Thoroughbred Racing)
You’ve only got to take a look at the two videos below to understand why they’ve been saying for years in Hong Kong and Australia that Zac Purton is one of the world’s very best jockeys.
The kind of judgement, rhythm, balance and confidence that he displays on both his G1 winners at Sha Tin on Sunday – Ivictory in the Chairman’s Sprint and Beauty Generation in the Champions Mile – can only be attained by a rider at the very top of his game.
There’s no doubt the 35-year-old Aussie is right at the top of his just now, so it’s fitting that these two triumphs have catapulted him to an all-time high in the TRC Global Jockeys’ Rankings.
Purton is the week’s biggest points gainer (+12), which puts him up to world #17 from #23 and maintains his upward trajectory in the standings (see graph alongside).
This is some achievement for a rider based in Hong Kong, where the Group-race opportunities are limited. Indeed Purton, like his Hong Kong title rival Joao Moreira (world-ranked ten), appears in our rankings list with a Modal Country of Australia as they have both had more Group-race rides there than anywhere else.
Purton was champion in Hong Kong for one season (2013-4) before Moreira moved in and took over, but this term Purton has been pushing the Brazilian hard in the premiership. A recent spurt, including two winners at Sha Tin yesterday, has given Moreira a lead of eight (101 to 93), but this has been Purton’s best showing since that title-winning year. Third-placed Karis Teetan is more than 50 winners behind.