Australia's Zac Purton confirmed his place as the leading jockey in Hong Kong with the best win of his career on local hope Dominant in the $2.12 million Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin on Sunday.

In a surprisingly muddling-run race, Purton had Dominant in the middle of a packed field before gaining a split at the top of the straight and dashing away with what proved to be a winning break.

To the roars of a very parochial crowd, the John Moore-trained Dominant held off the late finishes of hot favourite The Fugue and the evergreen Dunaden.

Dominant had three-quarters of a length to spare over The Fugue, who had dropped back to near last nearing the home turn, with Dunaden, who won the race in 2011, a short-head away third.

Purton, 30, who is in his eighth season in Hong Kong, has been runner-up to Douglas Whyte in the premiership the past two seasons.

''This is one of the big races today I didn't expect to win,'' said Purton.

Despite five-year-old Dominant living up to his name, there were a string of hard-luck stories behind him, particularly as far as the contingent of runners coming out of the Melbourne Cup were concerned.

Dunaden ran right up to his best form in finishing third, but the popular Red Cadeaux, who won the Vase last year and finished second for the second time in the Melbourne Cup last month, finished fourth after never being closer than four wide for the entire 2400 metres.

Trainer Ed Dunlop was full of praise for his mighty warrior. ''We knew he might find it hard to get in from his wide barrier but watching him stuck out where he was all the way was hard to take,'' he said.

Dunlop said the Cup had taken a lot out of Red Cadeaux and he praised his staff for getting him back in shape.

''At this stage we plan to press on with him and we are looking at Dubai and the Sydney races in the autumn for him.''

Irish stayer Simenon followed his Melbourne Cup fourth with a close-up fifth, but Mount Athos (third in the Cup) gave Craig Williams a torrid ride, racing too keenly on the slow pace and dropping out from the home turn.

Japanese sprinter Lord Kanaloa won the Hong Kong Sprint for the second year in a row.