Having won the G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup three times in the past five years, Zac Purton will be chasing his fifth title in this second leg of the Hong Kong Speed Series atop California Spangle on Sunday (19 March) at Sha Tin.
The HK$12 million G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) precedes the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) and draws together an elite field of horses and jockeys featuring Wellington (Ryan Moore), California Spangle (Purton), Lucky Sweynesse (James McDonald), Waikuku (Damian Lane) and Courier Wonder (Blake Shinn).
Purton, who has won Group 1s on California Spangle, Lucky Sweynesse and Waikuku, has opted to ride 2022 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) winner California Spangle in what shapes as a high-stakes tactical battle.
“It was really hard (to choose between California Spangle and Lucky Sweynesse). Obviously, Lucky Sweynesse is on the way up and it’s hard to know where his ceiling is at the moment. He might have a little improvement there,” Purton said.
“He’s unbeaten at the distance, albeit at a lesser grade and he’s airborne. He’s going really well so, it’s very hard to choose between the two. I just felt the Golden Sixty form was probably the best form in Hong Kong and I know my bloke is going to be very strong at 1400m, coming back from the mile.”
Purton expects Tony Cruz’s stable flagbearer to take up his customary leading role.
“I think it’s pretty predictable,” Purton said. “I think all the horses in this race are well established in their patterns and my bloke is going to take it up. I just throw the reins at him and let him go at whatever speed he wants to go. He can work it out – he’s a smart horse.
“I think every horse will get their chance.
“I love the horse (California Spangle). He’s been my favourite horse, the last 18 months and I always enjoy riding him. It’s a privilege to be on his back and hopefully we can get another win on the board with him.”
Sunday’s (19 March) meeting at Sha Tin starts with the Class 4 Sky Darci Handicap (1200m) at 1pm.
By Leo Schlink, HKJC