They’re two of the all-time greats in Hong Kong racing, and John Size and Zac Purton are driving each other’s record pushes with a combined output far advanced of anything they’ve produced in tandem before.
Purton’s 100th win of the season came aboard the Size-trained A Americ Te Specso at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, and after 49 of 88 meetings, the Australian remains on track to surpass Joao Moreira’s single-season Hong Kong record of 170 victories.
With his midweek double, Size moved to 41 wins for the campaign and stretched his lead over his closest rival – reigning champion Frankie Lor Fu-chuen – to seven, up from just two five meetings ago.
By winning a 12th trainers’ title, Size would break his deadlock with George Moore and stand alone at the top of the premiership tree.
If the first 49 fixtures of the 2022-23 campaign are anything to go by, the superstar jockey and the training maestro are going to be crucial to each other’s chances of creating history.
They have combined for 24 victories from 81 attempts so far this term at a strike rate of 29.6 per cent. Low flying.
Purton hasn’t ridden more than nine winners for any other trainer this term, while Size’s next most prolific jockey is Alexis Badel on five.
On face value, it doesn’t shock the best jockey and best trainer in the city are wreaking havoc, but in historical terms, this is a never-before-seen phenomenon.
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Prior to this term, their most prolific haul was the 12 wins they combined for last season, and of the 75 wins they’ve had together since Purton joined the riding ranks in 2007-08, 36 have come in the past 16 months.
In Purton’s first premiership season in 2013-14, and again when he took the title in 2019-20, Size didn’t provide him with a single winner.
In the early years of Purton’s Hong Kong career it was Douglas Whyte who was Size’s man, and then for many years it was recently departed Brazilian Joao Moreira.
Size was loyal to Moreira for much of he and Purton’s nine-year period of dominance, but that began to wane somewhat last season, and now in the Magic Man’s absence, it’s his long-time rival who is reaping the rewards.
Teetan a class act
Karis Teetan has been a class act this week, taking the news he won’t be riding Romantic Warrior at his next start in his stride, and the Mauritian was rewarded for his good grace with a double aboard Star Contact and Howdeepisyourlove at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
While some have questioned Teetan’s effort aboard Romantic Warrior when the reigning Hong Kong Cup champion fell a head short against Golden Sixty in last Sunday’s Group One Gold Cup (2,000m), the general consensus has been there was little more the Mauritian could do.
It was Vincent Ho Chak-yiu who was aboard the victorious Golden Sixty, and the star local jockey made some interesting comments on English broadcaster Nick Luck’s podcast this week that only served to add more weight to the argument Teetan can count himself dead unlucky.
“I think Romantic Warrior actually peaked in December in the [Hong Kong Cup],” Ho said.
“Then they came back to a mile to race against Golden Sixty and California Spangle [in the Stewards’ Cup (1,600m)], then one month later stepping back up to this Gold Cup is not easy once a horse has peaked – you drop the distance and go for 2,000m again.
“He also missed a couple of morning [workouts] that week of the Gold Cup, so probably [there was] an issue with Romantic Warrior – the team would know, we wouldn’t. I just think, for sure, Romantic Warrior wasn’t at his best.”
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