Top jockey slams the most frustrating rule in Australian horse racing as he prepares to ride one of the leading contenders to win The Everest

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  • Zac Purton is arguably Australia’s best jockey 
  • Has had amazing success racing in Hong Kong 
  • Said Australian rule puts him at a disadvantage 

Champion jockey Zac Purton has lashed out at the restricted use of the whip in Australian racing, predicting it will make life difficult for him when he rides in The Everest on Saturday.

Regarded as the top hoop in the racing mecca of Hong Kong since leaving Australia in 2007, the 40-year-old will be riding In Secret as he contests the country’s richest horse race.

While jockeys in Hong Kong can use the whip as often as they like, their counterparts down under are far more restricted.

The Australian Rules of Racing state hoops can only use the whip five times in non-consecutive strides before the last 100 metres of a race. There are no limits on whip use in the last stretch.

Zac Purton is arguably Australia's best jockey - but he has warned the whip rule that's used down under will put him at a disadvantage in The Everest on Saturday

Zac Purton is arguably Australia’s best jockey – but he has warned the whip rule that’s used down under will put him at a disadvantage in The Everest on Saturday

The champion hoop (pictured with wife Nicole) branded the process of following the complex rule 'extremely frustrating'

The champion hoop (pictured with wife Nicole) branded the process of following the complex rule ‘extremely frustrating’

Riders must also not use the whip in ‘an excessive, unnecessary or improper manner’.

Purton says not breaking the rule will be an ‘extremely frustrating’ process for him during the Everest.

‘From the time I get on the horse, I have that thought going through my head – whip, whip, whip – and it is hard when you are in big fields, you are making runs between horses, you are trying to time your run correctly and then you have to try to look out for the markers to see where you are,’ he told racenet.

‘Then you have to try and not hit the horse too many times. It is extremely frustrating, I must say, it is the hardest thing about going back there [Australia], for sure.

‘Instead of allowing me to think about the race and think about what I am doing, obviously you don’t want to cause interference, so you are trying to keep your horse straight and all the things you need to be thinking about, like how your horse is responding.

Purton (pictured riding a winner at Randwick in 2017) has been plying his trade in Hong Kong for years as he became the best hoop in the world's biggest racing city

Purton (pictured riding a winner at Randwick in 2017) has been plying his trade in Hong Kong for years as he became the best hoop in the world’s biggest racing city

The 40-year-old will be hoping to follow in Craig Williams' footsteps after he rode Giga Kick to victory in last year's Everest (pictured)

The 40-year-old will be hoping to follow in Craig Williams’ footsteps after he rode Giga Kick to victory in last year’s Everest (pictured)

'It has become an important race not just in Sydney but around the world,' Purton said of The Everest, which attracted huge crowds to Royal Randwick last year (pictured)

‘It has become an important race not just in Sydney but around the world,’ Purton said of The Everest, which attracted huge crowds to Royal Randwick last year (pictured) 

‘On top of that I am thinking about the whip. Is it don’t hit it? Hit it once? Hit it twice? For me it is really difficult.’

Purton added that the rule puts him at a disadvantage because obeying it has become ‘second nature’ for hoops who are based in Australia. 

Saturday’s race will be Purton’s first taste of The Everest, and he’s been licking his lips in anticipation.

‘I have watched The Everest grow from it infancy to what it is today and I’ve just wanted to be part of it,’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

‘We haven’t been able to travel for the past couple of years because of Covid and it is a day that just jumps out at you on the TV. 

‘Everyone at home talks about it. You see they quality of horses that run in it and the publicity it gets all year around.

‘It has become an important race not just in Sydney but around the world.’

Purton’s Everest ride is currently paying around $17 to win  

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