Joao "Magic Man" Moreira has some work to do if he's to repeat as Hong Kong's champion jockey before heading off to Japan at season's end.
Zac Purton rode a pair of winners June 10 at Sha Tin Racecourse, while Moreira finished out a two-meeting suspension. That edged Purton one win ahead of the three-time champ, 117 to 116, with nine days to go in the season.
After five highly successful seasons in Hong Kong, Moreira announced he will move to Japan, hoping to win a spot as the third foreign-born jockey on the permanent rotation.
Purton, despite suffering through a bout of influenza and lacking "a great book of rides," scored with Little Bird in the fifth race and Starship in the 10th. Both were favorites. He rode Volitation to a heartbreaking second—beaten just a short head—after leading until the final strides in the day's last race.
"Sometimes, people can expect a little bit too much," Purton said. "I was doing the sums in the room and, if you ride two winners a meeting through 88 (days), it's 176 winners a year. You are breaking records if you do that every meeting.
"Riding four or five winners at every (card) just doesn't happen. I didn't have a great book of rides, but I came here thinking I could ride two winners and I've left with two winners so I suppose that's a positive. I think it's going to be a good battle from here. I just want to clear my head and get rid of the flu, so that I can attack properly."