Zac Purton wants the Friday rains to hang around into Sunday for Dark Dream but the folks at the Hong Kong Observatory are dashing his hopes with those sun-peeping-from-cloud forecast symbols.
The probability of a wet BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) appears to be slim.
“If there’s cut in the track, that’s what he’s looking for,” Purton said at a wet Sha Tin on Friday morning (15 March). “But I don't think we’re going to get that.”
Dark Dream, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Dark Dream’s one Hong Kong win from four starts came on a wet track at the course and distance back in December. He demolished those Class 2 rivals, cruising to a four and a half-length success under Silvestre de Sousa.
“I think it was the track,” Purton said. “It rained during the afternoon on the day he won and that was his best performance so I think the condition of the surface had a lot to do with how he went that day.”
The stamina-laden Frankie Lor-trained gelding ran fourth in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) before Purton climbed aboard for second place in the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).
“I was a bit disappointed with his last effort,” the champion jockey continued. “I thought he was in the right spot, the way the race was run, and he seemed to just grind away in the straight. Furore (4th), who was well back in the field and not suited by the tempo of the race, really got to the line strong, so you’d think even if we get a more genuine gallop Furore’s going to get to the line stronger than me anyway.
“I think my bloke needs to improve a little bit on what he’s been doing.”
Last year’s G1 Queensland Derby (2200m) winner will break from gate eight in the HK$18 million feature. With leading rivals Waikuku (14), Furore (12) and Mission Tycoon (11) all drawn outside, Purton is pleased with his mount’s starting berth.
“I think the barriers for a lot of the runners have changed peoples’ game plans. I think for my bloke it’s probably not too bad. He’s going to get in a nice spot from there and we’ll see if he’s good enough,” he said.
“It’s going to come down to how it’s run. They haven’t gone hard in the first two legs of the series so far and that might not have played to his strength.”
Whatever happens on Sunday, Purton believes the Australian import has more to offer in the future.
“I don’t think he’s a fully finished product,” he said. “He can get stronger; he still feels a little bit shallow underneath. He’s not really attacking the line with great purpose so I think he can improve next season.”