Zac Purton has edged out arch rival Joao Moreira to claim the International jockeys’ championship at Sha Tin in a dramatic finish but it was English rider Hollie Doyle who stole the show.
Doyle became the first female to win a leg of the annual jockeys’ challenge on Wednesday night when successful on Harmony N Blessed for ex-patriot Australian trainer David Hayes.
It capped an incredible year for Doyle, who was recently crowned The Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year.
“It’s amazing,” Doyle told the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
“It’s just great to be here and it’s the icing on the cake.”
Doyle was the third woman to compete in the International jockeys’ championship after Emma-Jayne Wilson (2007) and Chantal Sutherland (2009).
Purton and Moreira went into the final race locked up on 18 points apiece before Purton nudged ahead when he dead-heated for third aboard Flying Bonus.
Moreira’s mount Cue The Music finished sixth.
Doyle accumulated 12 points throughout the night to finish equal third in the championship with Alexis Badel.
It was Purton’s second win in the series which he first clinched in 2017 and he said it was a timely confidence boost ahead of the International race day at Sha Tin on Sunday.
“In a competition like this when there’s so much on the line, it certainly feels nice to have won it again,” Purton said.
“It’s another moment that I’ll cherish.”
Hong Kong’s reigning premier rider, Purton set the standard with a treble of wins and also brought up his 1200th victory in the Asian racing centre.
The only other jockey to have ridden as many winners in Hong Kong is champion Douglas Whyte.