Australian rider Zac Purton has become a three-time winner of the International Jockeys’ Championship in Hong Kong, underlining his status as one of the very best pilots in global horseracing.
The 38-year-old Queenslander joined South African Douglas Whyte and legendary UK-based Italian Frankie Dettori as a triple winner of the prestigious championship at Happy Valley that brings together a host of the world’s best jockeys.
Four days after he overtook Whyte as the winner of the most prize money as a jockey in Hong Kong racing history, the serial winner Purton took the title in the four-race contest, amassing 22 points by finishing second in three contests and third in another.
His consistency powered him to the third title in five seasons, having also won in 2017 and 2020, and left him pocketing a prize worth $90,000.
He had some near-misses, earning his runners-up spots on Glorious Lover, Amazing One Plus and Shining Gem with his third-place coming aboard Circuit Seven.
“I came here a little bit worried about the quality of horses I was riding and knew that I was going to need things to go my way and luckily I was able to get some nice runs on them and give them their chances,” said Purton.
“It was a bit frustrating I kept getting beaten in those photos, but I suppose that makes for good racing and good competition. The points added up -it’s very satisfying.”
It was enough for him to outdo the four winning riders – Melbourne Cup-winning New Zealander James McDonald, British couple Tom Marquand and Hollie Doyle, and Frenchman Mickael Barzalona – who shared a four-way tie for second with 12 points each.
Australian David Hayes claimed the trainers’ championship with a win – Awesome Treasure – and two third places to finish on 20 points.
It was an exciting finale with Purton, leading on 16 points, one of seven riders still in with a chance of winning the title heading into the last race, with Marquand, Doyle and McDonald locked in a three-way tie for second on 12.
Barzalona’s driving finish on Elon in the final leg enabled Purton to clinch the championship with six points for second on Shining Gem.
Doyle, Britain’s record-breaking woman jockey, said: “It’s very special to win against the world’s best jockeys.”