Zac Purton questioned Racing Fighter’s fortitude in the lead-up to the Class 3 France Galop Cup Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley but the grey didn’t shirk on Wednesday night, lugging top-weight to a length success.
“I finally got the win out of him!” the champion jockey said after collecting the silverware.
Purton’s first ride on Dennis Yip’s charge had delivered a breakthrough victory but that was back in December: four subsequent pairings produced three frustrating seconds and a third-place return.
“I said pre-race he’d been very consistent but he’d had many chances to get that next win and he’s just been throwing his races away, so it was time to try something different,” he said.
“Coming to Happy Valley was a bit of a risk because he’s a quirky horse and the gate (seven) wasn’t ideal with the make-up of the race, so I had to make use of him early. But he got the job done and he’s done it with a big weight (133lb) on his back – it’s not easy to do – so hopefully things click with him a little bit more and he’ll be able to go on with it.”
Purton tracked along on the quarters of the front-running Speedy Luck (119lb), kicked Racing Fighter to the lead upon straightening and went past the post in 1m 10.20s at odds of 3.9. The Australian ace is hopeful that the four-year-old might be able to hold his own in Class 2.
“I think he’s got the ability – he has,” he said. “It’s just a matter of whether he wants to do it. It’s more mental than physical with him.”
And the fact that Racing Fighter raced down the straight without another horse delivering a pressing challenge might have been beneficial too.
“Maybe he’s taken some confidence out of that – I hope so!” Purton added.
Racing Fighter, a son of Mastercraftsman, was purchased as a yearling out of Mapperley Stud's 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier draft and was Group Two placed in New Zealand.-HKJC