Zac Purton will ride More Than This in the HK Derby on Sunday. Photo by HKJC.

“It can be a messy race so I don’t want to be back in the ruck again,” Purton talks Derby tactics after drawing pole on More Than This

Michael Cox


Michael Cox’s Derby Watch

In the lead-up to the 2020 Hong Kong Derby, Michael Cox will provide analysis for Hutchi’s Honkers as the next generation of stars builds up to the big race on March 20. The four-year-old series began with the Hong Kong Classic Mile on January 27, continued with the Hong Kong Classic Cup on February 23 and culminates with the Derby on March 22.




Barrier one, a gear change and a tweak in tactics could result in a Hong Kong Derby win for More Than This but big race specialist Zac Purton will need to be at his best to execute his plan on the quirky galloper.

More Than This has flashed home for placings behind stablemate and likely Derby favourite Golden Sixty in the first two legs of the four-year-old series, but did it after drawing wide barriers and racing back in the field on both occasions.

On Sunday, drawn one and with cheek-pieces applied to spark the sometimes-lazy starter, Purton plans to be closer in the run and hopes Golden Sixty – drawn awkwardly in gate nine – hits some snags from his likely rearward race position.

“I think the gate helps because even though we have had small fields in the Classic Mile and Classic Cup, he drew out and had to go all the way back in the field,” Purton said.

“He gets a bit lazy racing by himself out the back and leaves himself too much to do. I will try and be handier from the barrier one, and racing inside of horses might spark him up as well. That and the gear change might just light the competitive fire in his belly.”

After winning his first three starts this season, More Than This was slow away in the Classic Mile and English jockey Ryan Moore had to work hard to get the gelding to race with the field. Then in the Classic Cup, Purton settled last and was forced to loop the field with an early run.

“This is a full 14-horse-field and it can be a messy race so I don’t want to be back in the ruck again,” Purton said.

“If I can just be within striking distance and let him get out at the right time, I will be happy.”

Trainer Francis Lui has gone for a gear change on More Than This, applying cheekpieces to a horse that has had his issues with racing manners.

“He was racing terribly when he first arrived in Hong Kong with blinkers on but now is the time to make a change and hopefully it just wakes him up enough that we can be that bit closer,” Purton said.

What Purton doesn’t want to do is wake More Than This up too much and have the horse over-race, as the four-year-old did in a Happy Valley trial for the jockey in January.

“That is where we will have to strike a balance but I am not out there to re-invent the wheel tactically, just to tweak things,” he said.

Not only has Golden Sixty drawn out in nine for jockey Vincent Ho, but Purton’s arch rival Joao Moreira has a job to do on Champion’s Way drawn eight from the treacherous 2000m start.

“Those horses look the two main dangers and I am happy to see them drawn where they have, luck always seems to play a part in this race and I know I have been strung wide from that starting point and in this race before,” said Purton, who won the 2015 Derby on Luger after sitting three deep after jumping from barrier 12.

The Hong Kong Derby will jump at 4.35pm HKT / 9.35pm AEDT as race 8 of 10 at Sha Tin.



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