Champion Jockey Zac Purton prepares for Ride of his Life
Monday 02nd February 2015 Hong Kong
Hong Kong's reigning champion jockey Zac Purton is working hard to get a competitive edge over his rivals for the inaugural HKJC 130th Anniversary Races of the Riders at the 2015 Longines Hong Kong Masters.
Purton, who is one of four selected Hong Kong jockeys to represent the club in this novel competition on the opening night of the Longines Hong Kong Masters, has been taking part in special training sessions at Beas River Equestrian Centre during the past few weeks.
The HKJC 130th Anniversary Races of the Riders will see four of the best jockeys in Hong Kong compete against some of the best show jumping riders in the world in a battle of speed over the same course design as the Longines Speed Challenge.  Jockeys, who will be wearing racing silks, will jump lower fences (75cm) whilst the experienced show jumping riders will be required to jump at double the height (150cm).
In the lead-up to this novel event jockeys will receive exclusive coaching in the paddock from some of the biggest names in the sport - current World Number 1 Scott Brash, German legend and world number 2 Ludger Beerbaum, Hong Kong’s Raena Leung and popular French champion Kevin Staut.
Riding his wife Nicole’s horse ‘Nelson’, Purton has already wisely sought help from the centre’s highly respected resident show jumping coach Joachim Heidenreich.
“Joachim is a pretty good coach and is teaching me the basics so that by the day of the competition I will hopefully be ready to go,” said Purton.
Purton, who grew up around horses, has not had much experience with show jumping and says he is amazed at how easy the top riders around the world make it look when they are competing.
"They are very good. I have been out to the Longines Hong Kong Masters the last couple of years and the size of the jumps they go over and how easy they make it look is incredible,” he said.
“Now I have started this training I have a far better appreciation of what it takes to get clear rounds and to get those horses to do what they do.”
Top Irish jockey Neil Callan has been along for a training session with Purton who is a personal friend of his. 
The wives of both riders, Nicole and Trish, are keen show jumping riders and been giving their husbands some tips ahead of the HKJC 130th Anniversary Races of the Riders.
"They have plenty of tips but whether they are the right ones we will see,” joked Purton.
Purton and his fellow riders Joao Moreira, Matt Chadwick and Neil Callan will have the privilege of riding perfectly trained warmblood horses supplied by the Belgian stables of Les Ecuries d’Ecaussinnes.
“I cannot wait to ride one of those highly tuned horses it will be absolutely amazing,” said Purton.
The HKJC 130th Anniversary Races of the Riders competition will take place on Friday, February 13 from 8:15pm. Whilst Purton is doing plenty of practice, the pro is reserved about his chances of winning.
"Once you get inside the ropes, as they say, it is always a bit different.”
“Hopefully I can get around clear, that is all I am after.”