Purton thrills with treble, but stewards spoil his day with two-meeting ban
The season has started with a bang for Zac Purton, who booted home a treble on General Danroad, Namjong Fighters and Fionn's Dragon, before being suspended for two meetings on a charge of careless riding at Sha Tin yesterday.
Purton was on cloud nine after his most successful opening day, but chief steward Kim Kelly soon burst his bubble when he slapped him with a two-meeting suspension for careless riding on the John Size-trained Tuscan Spirit.
Purton must now miss the meetings on the September 23 and 26, but the blow was cushioned by the trio of winners which elevated him to equal top standing with Brett Prebble on the jockeys' table.
'Without the suspension it would have been a terrific start to the season, but you've got to take the good with the bad sometimes,' Purton said.
The Australian took the honour of riding the first winner, and first favourite, of the 2010-11 season on the Francis Lui Kin-wai-trained General Danroad in the Ice House Handicap (1,200m) by a short head from Hexagon.
'General Danroad was a little disappointing even though he won, because he had the right run throughout and was given every chance to beat them by more,' Purton said. 'Maybe the weight just anchored him a little, but he still got the job done and, with the confidence that gives him, he may be able to go on with it next time.'
Purton was more impressed by the win of Namjong Fighters, even though he admitted the inside barrier and luck in running helped the Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained gelding recapture his best form and claim his second win at his 37th start.
'He was given every chance to win the race today, we drew the right gate, he got the smother early and had an unimpeded passage into the straight,' he said. 'In saying that, however, he was very solid in winning and confirmed his good barrier trial form by hitting the line strongly.'
Purton may have been content with a double, but he was not going to knock back a third win and was surprised when Fionn's Dragon burst through to steal race nine at his first start for trainer Danny Shum Chap-Shing.
'He didn't trial that well, but his work on the dirt afterwards was strong,' Purton said. 'I actually suggested to Danny that he find a race for him on the dirt, but now that he's come out and won on the turf I guess they'll keep trying him on the grass.
'Personally I think he will be a much better horse on the dirt, he had to dig deep today but eventually he got past the favourite.'
Shum, who has been riding a lot of trackwork this season in a bid to attract more owners, said he was happy the horse won. 'I have been riding this horse every morning and I thought he could pick up a little better in the straight today than what he showed.
'There is definite improvement in him still and I will go home and watch the replays before I make a decision where to aim him next.'