Glorious Artist (No.5) fends off the late challenge of Royal Performer (No.2) last start.
©Hong Kong Jockey Club
By Andrew Hawkins
Jockey Zac Purton hopes to continue his tremendous late-season form when he partners Glorious Artist in the Class 3 Clear Water Bay Handicap (1650m) at Sha Tin’s all-weather track meeting on Wednesday night (30 May).
Purton has ridden 24 winners from the last 10 meetings, including a five-timer at Sha Tin on Sunday (27 May). That momentum has taken him to within two victories of the jockeys’ championship lead, with Joao Moreira maintaining a narrow 111-109 lead heading into Wednesday night’s meeting.
Glorious Artist (128lb) was a winner of two of his 10 starts in Britain when trained by Charlie Hills, with both successes coming on the Wolverhampton Tapeta course.
Joining the yard of first-season handler Frankie Lor, Glorious Artist ran well at his first start in Hong Kong but was never competitive at start two, both at Happy Valley. However, the Zoffany four-year-old improved significantly at his first attempt on the Sha Tin dirt, clocking a track record of 1m 46.68s over 1800m at his last start in April.
“Like most horses, it just took a couple of runs for him to click in Hong Kong,” Purton said at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning (29 May). “He had been slowly away at his first two starts but last time, he began better, albeit over a longer distance. It was a fast-run race but he was able to settle quite handy, which is a good asset on the surface.”
Purton was in the saddle for a recent 1200m trial on the dirt, with Glorious Artist first past the post in fairly quick time. That has given the Australian rider confidence that his previous gate issues are behind him.
“In his trial, he showed me a bit of speed, so I feel that he can lay up handy again, even back to 1650m,” Purton said. “He’s a fit horse now and that last run was solid so he should be a good chance.”
Moreira finished second to Purton twice on Sunday, but will be out to reverse fortunes aboard another last-start winner, the John Size-trained Remarkable (116lb). The More Than Ready four-year-old is unbeaten from three starts on the Sha Tin all-weather track, but steps up to Class 3 for the first time.
“I think he’s going to continue his good form,” Moreira said. “He’s done nothing wrong, particularly when he got on to this surface. It seems like he enjoys it very much and, obviously, I’m happy with how he’s been going.”
Remarkable stormed home from second-last to score in Class 4 last time out and Moreira anticipates the bay being in a similar position again.
“It was the plan to be that far back, and of course, that was Mr. Size’s idea,” Moreira said. “Once again, he got it perfectly right. I haven’t had a good look at the race so don’t know if that’s the plan again, but I presume that he’s going to ask me to ride a similarly patient race again. The difference this time is that he has a better gate (five) compared to last time (nine) so maybe he won’t be so far back.
“He should have every chance and if he is able to deliver the same sort of run this time, even up in class, he should be a strong contender.”
Also among the 14 runners are Royal Performer (133lb), Hang’s Decision (124lb) and Quick Return (113lb).
The Clear Water Bay Handicap closes the meeting on Wednesday and is scheduled for 3.55pm, with the opener, the Class 5 Silvermine Bay Handicap (1200m), set for 12.15pm.