Size seals 11th title at Hong Kong’s season finale
John Size had a two-win lead over John Moore going into Hong Kong’s
2018/19 season finale at Sha Tin yesterday. When the last horse crossed the line 11 races later, that advantage
had extended to three and an 11th premiership was his.
The Australian ended the day with 78 wins to Moore’s 75, outpointing his rival two
to one on the day. His double started with Monkey Jewellery (Exceed And Excel) in race
four and the championship was wrapped up with Aerohappiness’s (Zacinto) victory in the
“It’s difficult, it’s not that easy, so you just have to put your head down and keep going – do your best for every individual in the stable and you might
come up with a championship.” The handler, who turned 65 on Wednesday, acknowledged the effort and commitment of his stable staff.
“You can’t put a price on morale, so when you’re winning it helps everybody, it helps the whole stable. My team has been with me for many years so they know what’s involved, they know that if they keep going it will probably work out well,” he said.
Size seals 11th title at Hong Kong’s season finale Moore had predicted in the lead-up to today that the battle would “go to the wire”.
Size had pointed to the fact that a couple of Moore wins early on the card would “make it difficult”.
Moore struck in the opener. Size’s advantage was cut to one when Above (Tavistock) landed the Class 5 Medic Kingdom Handicap (1800m).
The fight was on, it seemed. “Come on, John!” jockey Zac Purton
shouted, with an accompanying fist-pump, as he returned to unsaddle.
“That’s the start we wanted!” Moore said. “That was another gun ride from Zac – he’s riding with such confidence. That steadies the
nerves – but just a little.” Moore needed that score if he was to have a chance in the championship race: the
champion jockey needed it in his quest to beat Joao Moreira’s Hong Kong single season
record of 170 wins.
Purton’s attempt failed. Needing four wins today to match Moreira’s mark, he fell two short, a double being his return, thanks to a win
on Defining Moment (Good Journey) in race six.
But there was no failure about hisseason as a whole: that was a resounding
success. Purton’s 168 tally is the secondhighest in Hong Kong history; it featured an unprecedented seven Group 1 wins at ShaTin;
his 1000th Hong Kong victory; record prize money of HK$234.9 million; and a third
champion jockey title. “It’s amazing what I’ve been able to achieve this season – just getting to that number of winners, I don’t think anyone thought it was possible,” he said.
“It’s been an incredible season when you reflect back on the milestones, the records andthe successes I’ve had – it’s quite astonishing and next season it’s going to be very hard to equal and extremely hard to top. I owe everything to the owners and trainers that give
me the support. It’s one season that I think I’ll always remember for many different reasons –
I wouldn’t have minded if this season had kept rolling on forever!”
The Moore nerves must have resurfaced before the afternoon reached half-way. Joao Moreira galvanized Monkey Jewellery through
a late drive to take the Class 4 Victory Marvel Handicap (1200m) and Size’s two-win cushion was back.
“He’s a very young and immature horse, he didn’t do things perfectly today,” Moreira said.
“We expected him to have a bit more speed but unfortunately he didn’t – but it paid off anyway because that was a fast-run race and it suited him.”