Purton hopes Best Step is one pace ahead

Zac Purton is looking to Best Step (121lb) to once again put his best foot forward. The lightly-raced three-year-old is on for a hat-trick in the finale at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, the Class 3 Staunton Handicap (1200m).

“Best Step hasn’t reached his ceiling yet, he’s still got a little bit left in him,” Purton said this morning (13 June), during a heavy rainstorm at Sha Tin that forced the regular Tuesday barrier trials to be rescheduled for Wednesday.

Best Step (outside) lands back-to-back victories over 1200m at Happy Valley last start, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club

The Caspar Fownes-trained gelding is set to compete off a mark of 68, fully 15 points higher than when landing a maiden victory two outings back at his fourth career start. That breakthrough win came in a 1000m dash at the city venue, with Purton in the plate, and Best Step followed up under Karis Teetan on 17 May with a make-all win at Wednesday’s course and distance.

Purton is back aboard for a fourth time and is hopeful that the Cecconi gelding is maturing at a rate that matches the handicapper’s imposts.

“He’s obviously a horse that had a few tricks to start with; he was slow from the gate and kept giving away a start, but then he worked it out and now he’s jumping out of
the gate and that’s putting him in the right spot; that’s making it a lot easier for himself,” the former champion jockey said.

“He’s put a couple of good wins together now and he’s still a relatively lightly-raced, inexperienced horse that you’d think would just keep progressing.”

The eight-race card’s closer has attracted a competitive field of 12 that also includes the Ricky Yiu-trained Cheer Win (116lb), the mount of Joao Moreira. The Brazilian ace has partnered the three-year-old three times previously for one win and two seconds.