Zac Purton has been booked to replace Ryan Moore as rider of More Than This for the Hong Kong Classic Cup. Photo by HKJC.

Moore punted, Purton on pre-post Hong Kong Derby top pick

Michael Cox

Michael Cox

For hutchishonkers.com

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 build up to the big race on March 20. The four-year-old series begins with the Hong Kong Classic Mile on January 27, continues with the Hong Kong Classic Cup on February 23 and culminates with the Derby on March 22.

 

04/02/20

 

Zac Purton has snared the ride on one of the Hong Kong Derby pre-post favourites More Than This after owner Huang Kai-wen was left unhappy with Ryan Moore’s ride on the horse in the Hong Kong Classic Mile.

Moore was flown in to ride More Than This in the first leg of the four-year-old series but in the days after a fast-finishing second to stablemate Golden Sixty, Huang informed trainer Francis Lui that he wanted Purton aboard.

“It was the owner’s decision,” Lui said on Tuesday. “Zac will ride the horse.”

The planned next start for More Than This is the second leg of the four-year-old series, the Hong Kong Classic Cup, over 1800m on February 23 before contesting the Derby on March 22.

The booking is a big one for Purton, who won the 2015 Derby aboard Luger, but had yet to latch on to a top contender in the lead-up to this race.

Purton rode outsider Star Performance to fifth in the Classic Mile and was second in a Class 2 aboard Columbus County last weekend, but More Than This heads into the final two legs of the four-year-old series as the nominal top pick.

More Than This had won four in a row heading into the Classic Mile and as 4.4 second favourite, began slowly and had to be pushed by Moore to stay with the field early.

After sitting last, More Than This peeled off the fastest final-800m and 400m splits of the race to finish 1.25 lengths behind Golden Sixty.

“The way he finished the race shows he will enjoy the extra ground over 1800m in Classic Mile,” Lui said. “And I think he will be even better over 2000m in the Derby.”

 

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