Double kicks starts new Hong Kong season for Zac Purton

Numero Uno: Champion jockey Zac Purton accepts the 2018/19 Premiership spoils. Picture: HKJC
Numero Uno: Champion jockey Zac Purton accepts the 2018/19 Premiership spoils. Picture: HKJC

Hong Kong's new racing season kicked off on Sunday at Sha Tin in the same manner in which 2018/19 closed - with Zac Purton securing the first winner of the day aboard maiden Good Runners Way.

The three-time champion missed Joao Moreira's record number of wins (170 from 88 meetings) for a season by only two last season and his assault on the remarkable standard drives the Coffs Harbour-raised star.

Last season's winning strike rate was a remarkable 24.7 per cent with seven saluting at Group 1 level - while setting a new prize money benchmark of almost HK$235 million (A$44.5m).

On Sunday's 10-race card, Purton - voted Hong Kong's most popular jockey last season - also prevailed on the promising Regency Legend.

The NZ-bred son of Pins raced outside main rivals Styling City to the turn and when asked the gelding for his best effort, there was an immediate response. He was untroubled in the latter stages to hold Season's Bloom and Jolly Banner in quick time.

Purton's two winners later mirrored by South African Aldo Domeyer and Vincent Ho yet the more significant aspect to the meeting was Douglas Whyte finding his first winner as a trainer with only his second runner - Adonis in the second race of the day.

Whyte only retired from the jockey ranks in July and the 13-time Premiership winner in Hong Kong.

Exceedance sets the spring agenda

Saturday's San Domenico Stakes has been has the reputation of a sire making sprint with the likes of General Nediym, Testa Rossa, Charge Forward and Foxwedge on the honour board, as well as recent winners, Vinery's Star Turn and Arrowfield's Pariah.

At only his third career outing, Exceedance could not have been more impressive in accounting for Group 3 Vain Stakes winner Bivouac and he has now firmed dramatically in ante-post betting for The Everest, Caulfield Guineas and Golden Rose.

Heavy rain in the lead-up to race day meant just five runners started in the San Domenico, including the highly publicised outsider Royal Popcorn and presence in the nominations drew questions from the Racing NSW stewards pre-acceptances.

While beaten a little more than 13 lengths, Royal Popcorn banked $5000 - more than he'd banked in five previous starts.

The counter point is: do stewards question owners when a $1m-plus yearling heads to a country track for a maiden? Or is Kris Lees' decision to head to Moree with a team of five Sunday frowned upon?

What's fair for one must be fair for all. Good luck to Royal Popcorn's connections and their wild throw at the stumps.

Stunning: Exceedance storms home to win on debut at Wyong.

Melbourne Cup market reacts to additional aspirants

Lindsay Park has added to its spring arsenal with the acquisition of two horses from the stable of Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien.

Senior trainer David Hayes recently spent time in Europe looking at horses and secured Cape Of Good Hope, who is entered for the Cox Plate and the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, and Constantinople which holds a Melbourne Cup entry only.

Both are northern hemisphere three-year-olds, the same age as past two Melbourne Cup winners, Rekindling and Cross Counter.

"When I was in Europe I went shopping and I was able to do a deal with Coolmore for some Lindsay Park clients, Hayes said.

Cape Of Good Hope, a brother to multiple Group One winner Highland Reel, has been bought as a racing and breeding prospect.

His dam is Hveger, a sister to Caulfield Cup winner Elvstroem and a half-sister to Haradasun.

Frequent Flyer: Elvstroem snares the 2005 Dubai Duty Free Stakes at the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in Dubai.

Frequent Flyer: Elvstroem snares the 2005 Dubai Duty Free Stakes at the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in Dubai.

Hayes said Cape Of Good Hope would try to emulate Criterion who raced in England during 2015, returned to Australia to win the Caulfield Stakes then finished second to Winx in the first of her four Cox Plates.

He then ran third to Prince Of Penzance in the Melbourne Cup.

Even though Cape Of Good Hope holds a Melbourne Cup nomination, Hayes said he would not be set for the race.

"He'll come out and run in the Caulfield Stakes and if he went well the Cox Plate and then maybe on to the Mackinnon Stakes," Hayes said.

"Because he's more of a stallion prospect, I want to keep him to 2000 metres.

"Hayes said Constantinople was a genuine stayer.

"He's one of the favourites for the [English] St Leger and has similar form lines to Cross Counter," Hayes said.

"We've been trying to do this for a couple of years.

"Last year we couldn't find the right one, but this year we think we have."

Hayes said long-time stable representative Gary Fennessey would go to England to oversee the pair at Jane Chapple-Hyam's Newmarket stable where they will enter quarantine on September 12 before being sent to Melbourne a bit over two weeks later.

"Having raced in England through the summer, I think that will be a huge advantage," Hayes said.

Simple accident proves fatal

The close-knit Darwin racing community is trying to come to terms with the death of jockey Melanie Tyndall in a race fall at the Fannie Bay racecourse on Saturday.

Tyndall became the second jockey to die in 48 hours after Victorian apprentice Mikaela Claridge lost her life in a trackwork accident at Cranbourne on Friday.

Andrew O'Toole, chief executive of Thoroughbred Racing Northern Territory, said Tyndall's fall at first seemed innocuous.

Hearbroken: Melanie Tyndall with partner Tony Harris. Picture: Facebook

Hearbroken: Melanie Tyndall with partner Tony Harris. Picture: Facebook

"It's really hard to take when we lose one of our own," O'Toole told Sky Thoroughbred Racing.

"We are a small community of less than 20 jockeys.

"It seemed Melanie clipped heels and was attended to immediately.

"She was conscious and we were hopeful she would be OK.

"But she got to Royal Darwin Hospital and unfortunately passed away."

O'Toole said 32-year-old Tyndall combined riding with being a constable in the NT police force.

"Melanie was a remarkable young lady," he said.

"She had been riding since 2012. She gave it away in 2017 to join the police force.

"She became a constable and then made a comeback. She was remarkable balancing both jobs."

In 2013, jockey Simone Montgomerie died in a fall on Darwin Cup day.

Australian Jockeys' Association chairman said Claridge's fall was also one that at first seemed simple.

"Mikaela and another rider, Jamie, were trotting on the sand trails," he said.

"Something spooked the horses and both riders came off.

"Jamie got up and she expected Mikaela to get up."

O'Keeffe said the AJA and other authorities were there to offer support and counselling to any racing participant, not just riders.

Paterson honoured as Employee of the Year

Shoalhaven Business Chamber has named Shoalhaven City Turf Club employee, Amanda Paterson, as the 2019 Employee of the Year.

This was a great honour for Amanda who has been an employee for over seven years and is an important part of SCTC's small team.

Lynn Locke, Chief Executive of the SCTC, said that there couldn't have been a worthier recipient.

"Amanda goes above and beyond what is expected of her and in particular over the last 12 to 24 months has well surpassed her normal day-to-day duties to assist both myself and the Board during a difficult period.

"The best way to describe Amanda is 'she is always there when needed'.

"Amanda was thrilled to have been nominated as it was totally unexpected and she was even more thrilled when she was named the 2019 Shoalhaven Business Chamber Employee of the Year."

With AAP, Racing NSW

This story Purton strikes first in Hong Kong battle first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.