Australian Zac Purton won the star-studded Longines International Jockeys' Championship at Happy Valley on Wednesday evening.
The Hong Kong-based 34-year-old beat British champion Silvestre de Sousa into second place after winning two of the first three legs in the four-race series.
Purton accrued enough points to ensure that only De Sousa, who had finished runner-up in the opener and won the second, could overhaul him in the final contest of the 12-man competition which also featured stars such as Ryan Moore, Hugh Bowman and Joao Moreira.
De Sousa’s mount finished unplaced behind the Pierre-Charles Boudot-ridden winner – a victory that propelled Boudot into third – and Purton walked away with the title and a cheque for HK$500,000 (approximately £48,000/€54,000).
He said: “I came into this thinking I had quite ordinary rides, but it turned out well and I’m pleased to have won as I’ve gone close a couple of times. You need a lot of luck, and I got it in two races.”
His two victories were achieved aboard Our Hero and Let’s Take It Easy.
Purton, who has ridden more than 750 winners since moving to Hong Kong in 2007, is no stranger to success at such events having won the World Super Jockeys series in Japan in 2012 – but triumphing at Happy Valley was extra special.
“It’s pleasing to get the result at home and in front of my home crowd,” he said.
Another local favourite, Moreira, got the record crowd of 29,294 into celebrations with a treble in the three races preceding the International Jockeys’ Championship, but he failed to hit the scoreboard in the main event.
Moore, a two-time winner of the competition, accrued four points, where as Purton totalled 24, with De Sousa on 18 and Boudot 16.
The attendance of was marginally down on last year’s 29,601, which remains a record for the meeting this century.
Longines International Jockeys’ Championship
1. Zac Purton 24 points
2. Silvestre de Sousa 18
3. Pierre-Charles Boudot 16
4. Hugh Bowman 12
5. Flavien Prat 6
6. Leandro Henrique 4
7. Ryan Moore 4
8. Keita Tosaki 4