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The Day Zac Purton Transcended Horse Racing.

Frankly speaking, I didn’t care who would win Sunday’s BMW Hong Kong Derby at Shatin.

I was coming down from watching FIVE Group 1 races at Rosehill on Saturday including Lady Of Camelot win the Golden Slipper and I was bored with the ceaseless and pointless conversations about who might win the Derby, talk about the “dark horses, what this and that “KOL” had to say and the usual Hong Kong racing talk from the dim sum gallery of “experts”.

That is until watching Zac Purton win his second HK Derby. 

While I thought about that first Derby win aboard Luger- his first and a last minute ride for champion trainer John Size- I was also watching Zac on television going through what looked like a hundred different emotions all coming towards him at the same time.

He looked like someone trying their best to keep it together after a brilliant ride in one of the best races in a long time and very well told by race caller and storyteller Mark McNamara.

There were three brilliant rides in the race- Andrea Atzeni who came very close to stealing it aboard Ka Ying Generation, Blake Shinn on runner up Galaxy Patch and Zac on the Dennis Yip trained Massive Sovereign. 

I have no idea what those two other riders and their connections might have been thinking about, but with the cameras on Zac, and being someone who keeps his emotions in check, he really didn’t seem to be “at” Shatin in Hong Kong, China.

Where was he?

He could have been, but he was probably processing everything that had led him to this place in time and how his career and that of the trainer had crisscrossed around a decade earlier and brought them together to win their respective championships at Happy Valley what now seems an eternity ago.

That was the year, Zac Purton ended the thirteen year reign of Douglas Whyte.

Who knows what he was thinking, but whatever it was, his win, and how he and wife Nicole have got to be where they are today had me thinking about my own life journey.

It always comes back to me.

I sent Zac a message congratulating him on his win and his reply some hours later said it all: “That felt good”.

No other words were needed.

That win on Sunday transcended horse racing and everything else that comes with winning in a pastime almost always eclipsed by talk of money, superficiality, the all-too familiar prize giving presentation and the other sponsorship razzmatazz and awkward showbiz.

None of any of this mattered to me.

What mattered was that emotional connection between two very different people at two very different points in their life and realising the importance of priorities and what needs to be done next- and done better instead of being on autopilot and on easy street.

That felt good, Zac.


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