Zac counts his blessings after tragedy mars his day
A double yesterday and Zac Purton levelled up again with Brett Prebble in the race for the quinella spot on the jockeys' table, but he was also breathing a sigh of relief for not getting his way at the starting gates.
Chater Mikado, his mount in the second-last race, sadly suffered with what was believed to be a heart attack and he died standing up in the stalls with Purton clambering quickly and safely off the horse's back before he even understood what had happened.
'He was standing in there for a while and he was very quiet, then he gave one little twinge and didn't move,' Purton said. 'That was when I got off him because I thought he was about to rear and flip over, but he stayed leaning against the side of the stall and one of the barrier attendants told me he was dead. I didn't believe it but they said it again. It happened very quickly.'
Chater Mikado had been a regular misser of the start, often by lengths, and Purton had requested that he be one of the last horses to load, in an effort to get him to jump out cleanly with the other runners, but the starter had refused to change his pre-planned loading order.
'It's just as well he didn't let me do it my way - if Chater Mikado had gone in and then they jumped, the race might have been under way when Chater Mikado died and something even worse might have happened,' said Purton.
The Australian continued his excellent season, taking his win tally to 62 with victories on Young Hero for Almond Lee and Scarlet Camellia for Danny Shum Chap-shing.
'Scarlet Camellia has done a terrific job with four wins this season and today was his first in Class Two and he's got the job done but it took him longer to pick up and the mile might just be getting short for him,' Purton said.
Shum observed Scarlet Camellia's action had improved after he had a tendency to climb early in the term.
'He may not be a star but he is very honest and if he came make a bit more improvement next season he could be a Class One horse,' Shum said. 'He has a big stride and was climbing before but he is steadier now and understanding more about what he has to do.'
Purton's other winner, Young Hero, he described as 'a bit of a surprise' with the 23-1 success for the nine-year-old one of a number of surprises throughout the card.
'His form lately has been pretty average, he'd never won on the dirt and he was backing up from an ordinary run mid-week - definitely a surprise,' Purton said.
Prebble also finished on 62 winners, having got the better of a tussle with Purton (Expedite) in the opening griffin event when Fiery Whisperer won his second race in a week, jumping from 1,000m to 1,400m.