By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

Everything that’s had to be written about him has, but then when the man dubbed The Zac Attack keeps raising his game, it’s always good to press that Refresh button.

Last night at Happy Valley Racecourse, Zac Purton turned a pretty average nine race card into his very own textbook and Master Class into what it takes to very possibly be the world’s best jockey. How?

Yes, musically speaking, riding five winners was A Concerto In A Different Major. Far more important was that each of these winning rides gave him the stage to showcase his repertoire- not his complete repertoire, but sufficient to once again remind racing fans globally just how privileged Hong Kong is to have been home to this very special rider for twelve years.

There’s a reason why he’s stayed in Hong Kong for so long other than stating the obvious.

Could he have achieved everything he has in Hong Kong if he had returned to his native Australia after a 4-5 year riding stint? Or maybe had never made the decision to leave- and instead decided to stay put and be the promising young rider that he was?

There’s a very big difference between being “promising” and having the opportunities to have these promises realised.

Opportunities like winning every major Group 1 race in Hong Kong. To have ridden against and beaten the best riders in the world. To have Joao Moreira to compete with at every race meeting along with Karis Teetan and Vincent Ho and Chad Schofield. To ride against those visiting riders from the UK and Europe who come up here for a lucrative winter break and on hit and run missions.

The Zac Attack is committed to Hong Kong and its horse racing. He’s today riding for every stable. He can pick and choose his rides. He’s also learned that, especially in a competitive and often ruthless racing environment like Hong Kong, one is only as good as their last winner. It’s about constantly staying relevant. People have short memories.

It’s been a tough ride from the time when one particular trainer, who is now one of his staunchest supporters, was asked why he doesn’t use Zac more often and being told how he would except that they have been “unlucky” together. How times have changed, he said with a smirk.

Today, The Zac Attack is very much part of Hong Kong racing and remains a proud Australian who’s known to racing fans around the world. His successes are celebrated by all these who follow horse racing.

It’s how I feel about cheering on every great athlete whose exploits I follow and support- Lewis Hamilton, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Joao Moreira, Kohli, Steve Smith.

It’s not about where they’re from. It’s about who they are and how well they do their jobs.

These are global ambassadors for the sport they represent.

Zac Purton has raised his game, and, by so doing taken horse racing- and in particular, Hong Kong racing- to a rarified space.

He has done this by, week after week, riding horses in the lower grades. It’s not ideal, but I’m sure it keeps him grounded- and patient. He probably would disagree and think that I have finally lost the plot. That’s okay. I can point to his Instagram page and how he has embraced cooking Italian cuisine. Guess he’s trying to prove something to a certain Italian chef friend of ours.

Getting back to do what he does best- apart from being a good family man- well, The Zac Attack is a world class athlete.

Especially at a time when the world is undergoing enormous change as we prepare for “the new normal”, he embodies the Nike ethos of Just Do It. He is a brand. A darn good one. The HKJC must surely recognise this.

Marketing this and to as wide a consumer group as possible in a tone and manner that they would understand should be a priority.

It’s been said long enough in every racing jurisdiction: How this and that is “good for racing.”

Yes. And then what?

As they say, Action speaks louder than words. Just do it. And he is.

Well done, Zac!

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