Winner’s Way capped Wednesday's night action at Happy Valley with an impressive all-the-way win in the Class 2 Lion City Handicap (1650m), a performance that gave a conspicuous nod to Rapper Dragon’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series form.
Winner’s Way makes all to win the finale under Zac Purton, photo HKJC
Zac Purton fired the Starcraft gelding from gate nine and the chestnut readily secured the lead, enabling the Australian hoop to dictate the tempo to his 11 rivals. And when the challengers began to press on the final turn, Winner’s Way (127lb) responded with a sustained burst that left his nearest pursuer, runner-up Jolly Banner (133lb), three and a half-lengths adrift at the line.
“He jumped today, which was a big asset because it was his first time around here and I could tell going to the start that he was quite lost. Getting out in front, it helped him to be a little more comfortable,” Purton said of Tony Cruz’s charge, whose seven previous Hong Kong starts featured a brace of 1400m wins at Sha Tin, as well as a fourth place behind Rapper Dragon in January’s Hong Kong Classic Mile.
“He got around the track ok, he didn’t get around it great, he was getting off on the corners a little bit and he didn’t change his leg for a way into the straight, but when I asked him for an effort it was there, it was a good win. I think he’s still learning. I think there’s more in store for him,” the former champion jockey said.
Cruz was delighted with the import, who won two of three starts in Australia for trainer Patrick Payne before his arrival at Sha Tin in August.
“We’ll stick to mile races with him,” Cruz said. “He looks a genuine miler to me, I don’t think he’d be effective over further than that. Whatever’s in the programme for him at a mile, we’ll look at that and see how far he can go.”
The 3.5 favourite finished inside standard at 1m 39.28s, his closing spilt of 23.46s was bettered only by third-placed Super Turbo (23.28s).