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By Darren Winningham | Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Zac Purton has just returned from an overseas trip to Phuket after being suspended by stewards. Whilst in Phuket he was training hard daily and eating small meals in his effort to make the 117 pounds (kilograms) that has been assigned to the latest Hong Kong sprint sensation Aethero.

Purton normally rides around 120 pounds (kgs) and says it has been nearly eight years since he has had to ride at such a light weight but Purton insists he has more energy than ever as he enters the final week of his weight-loss journey to ride star three-year-old Aethero in its first Group One when he takes on an international field on LONGINES International Race Day on Sunday.

“I have been eating entrée or starter-size meals. They have been very small and I have been very hungry, I don’t remember the last time I was this hungry for this long,” said Purton.

“I feel fine, even though I have been hungry. I actually feel like I have plenty of energy, more than I normally would, so from that point of view things are fine.

“I trained every day when I was away, I watched my weight really closely, I made sure I was on getting on the scales every day and managing it like I need to.”

While he is yet to hit the magic number, he will be ready to step onto the scales at 117 pounds come race day.
Aethero’s last run was at Sha Tin on November when he took on a field of quality sprinters and led from barrier to box. He will meet several them in the LONGINES International Sprint Race again.

His sections were outstanding and his overall race time of 1:07:58 was sensational. In recent years a time like this would see him winning the Sprint by at least 1.5 lengths.

The run of Hot King Prawn first up from a spell was exceptional as well. The form out of The Jockey Club Sprint (Group 2) Is the form to follow coming into this Group 1 event.

There have been some concerns from local media that Aethero is taking on a world class field in his first Group 1 run but, in my opinion, seeing is believing and that run would suggest that he will claim the feature race and post his first Group 1 win for trainer John Moore.

There is a reasonable incentive for the 36-year-old Purton at the end of it all, with the winning jockey of the Hong Kong Sprint getting 10 per cent of the HK$11,400,000 first prize.

I think it is only fair that Zac has the last word, “Hopefully it is all worth it at the end of the day.”

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Zac Purton … will he have the last laugh? He is quite literally hungry for another Group 1 win

Photo: Darren Winningham
Zac Purton … will he have the last laugh? He is quite literally hungry for another Group 1 win

Photo: Darren Winningham
Aethero … so close to a track record

Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club
Aethero … so close to a track record

Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club
The review of Aethero's last win by David Morgan on the HKJC website: Aethero lived up to his billing as Hong Kong’s next big thing with a scintillating front-running victory in the G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin today, Sunday, 17 November. “Mama Mia!” cried winning rider Karis Teetan as he returned jubilant from a two-length success aboard the precocious chestnut. “It was unbelievable. The day I trialled him, he gave me the feel of a real champion. I rode Able Friend and this horse reminds me so much of him.”
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