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Zac Purton and after catching that Hail Mary pass

“It’s like water off a duck’s back”. One of my female friends who knows the ins and outs and side trips of horse racing here in Hong Kong and Australia more than anyone else in my inner circle was answering a question that had been asked of her about Zac Purton’s future moves. Rightly or wrongly, and she’s very seldom wrong because that’s how she rolls, she believes that Zac is not losing sleep about anything that has to do with his short, middle and long term career plans. Everyone can try and guess what these plans might be, but only Zac knows anything for sure about Zac and which is why whatever gets that old rumour mill building up steam and starting by supposed “racing fans” in Hong Kong often does more harm than good. It also shows just how broken down things have become with many having too much time on their hands and how idle hands create nothing of any substance. Instead of supporting this game of chance, says my friend of horse racing, which has its fair share of detractors with its association with gambling, but is something of a necessary evil to governments because of what they gain from betting taxes, these fans take the city’s most popular pastime into areas that it should not go. Being champion jockey in Hong Kong, most eyes are fixed and fixated on the next moves of the 40 year old Australian, which is what led to the remark about “water off a duck’s back”. From what little is known to the public about Zac’s future plans, it is what it is, it was what it was and the man moves on as confidently as one can to wherever he’s going and knowing how he’s going to get there.

We’re all trying to do the same thing by “getting there”, because right here with all the turbulence flying around is not working. Maybe Zac has a head start. These days, Zac is celebrating the fruits of his labours in what’s been a very eventful season that still has some months to go. Maybe he’s even hoisting up his own Fruit Of The Loom flag, and showing how whatever else there is to come will simply fall into place. What lies ahead? If taking a guess, I would say that top of mind at the moment would be having a good ride in the Everest, especially as old Pete has raised the disruptive stakes because he can to a whopping and obscene AUS$20m.

Whatever one might think of the man, he knows his market and has humongous balls to be like some Nike poster boy. This is also the Oliver Twisted world of horse racing where money and more money is meant to cure all ills and is the same old game played in new backgrounds by the ancient billionaires club with smoke and mirrors and peppermints and incense offering the illusion that everyone wins. It’s something from which I have divorced myself as, well, it’s just not somewhere that I belong. As for Zac’s current business portfolio, one would hazard a guess that this might include an investment to do with golf- not just playing golf, which he enjoys doing whenever and wherever he can- but what might take on a new and more important role after his retirement from racing. Again, who really knows, but if a guessing game, it would be no surprise if he’s already spoken to Greg Norman about the possibilities of having a role to play in the evolution of the Saudi backed LIV Golf Entertainments brand which is said to be expanding into other global sports and different lifestyle business streams.

From a marketing point of view, personally speaking, interesting would be seeing Lewis Hamilton, Virat Kohli, Gordon Ramsay and Zac Purton interview each other on a Netflix streaming series. This might make “Succession” look to have retired and help bring horse racing into the greater pantheon of sports entertainment. Anyway... Right now, Zac Purton is out there determined to break every record worth breaking in Hong Kong racing before starting the next chapter of his career.

After apparently being made an offer he couldn’t refuse by the HKJC to stay for a while more, Zac brings to Hong Kong racing a definite personality. He’s certainly not white bread bland with some marmite and cauliflower on the side.

Nothing against them, but current top world class riders like Ryan Moore, James McDonald, Damien Lane, Hugh Bowman and even Japan based champion jockey Christophe Lemaire don’t have this X factor. Only Joao Moreira had that certain je ne sais quoi, but the Brazilian magic man’s time might have come and gone. As for Zac Purton, he’s riding for every trainer in Hong Kong except for two, and which is his decision not to do so. Has he made peace with relatively new Chief Racing Steward Marc van Gestel? Maybe the peace was made for him. He and rookie New Zealand trainer Jamie Richards have made a successful team this season, and whether this might affect his time frame for leaving horse racing is food for thought.

Then again, what has always come first for Zac is what’s going to work best for him and his family. Selfish? Why not be selfish when nearly everyone else is in this sinking Selfie stick world?

Financially, he’s set for life. What might be going through his mind these days is, Now what? Who’s going to be that next audience, and how is this audience going to be bigger than what he’s used to after fourteen years in Hong Kong and smothered for almost half of that time in the city’s five star lifestyle? Fame and everything that comes with it is highly addictive- and motivational. It’s probably even better than anything Tony Robbins might have to say or Bongo Man might throw to the gullible world out there. Especially for Zac Purton who’s worked from practically a zero base to becoming the champion jockey that he is Hong Kong, whatever he does next can’t be more of the same, nor can it be anything less. It’s going to be about changing direction, and, as it is in competitive racing, there’s absolutely no room for mistakes. It’s also about learning from those who have had to retire from the racing game. He’s no doubt learned much from watching and being around those who have come before and wants to ensure that he doesn’t make any similar mistakes and be another angry man on Twitter. A very important lesson taught in Hong Kong is that in every business, one is only as good as their last big hit and that no one is indispensable. While navigating his way through the international racing world, Zac has been privy to the ways of how big business operates in Hong Kong...and all the inscrutable ways it works globally. Along the way, he’s also learned the art of survival and would be very familiar at seeing which new doors of opportunities might be opening and those best for him. It’s a changing world out there and who knows what tomorrow’s AI world might bring?

Who knows whether horse racing will even last the distance? One doesn’t exactly have to be Nostradamus to see that there’s not exactly a conga line waiting to take over the reins after the current crop of racing’s leaders hand over their whips and saddles and strap on their golden parachutes. The game might just be in its death throes.

As for Zac Purton, he has seemingly timed his exit from the racing world to perfection. #zacpurton #horseracing #LIV #future #hansebert

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