Purton keeps focus on main events
Australian jockey Zac Purton accepts there are roadblocks to progressing any higher than third or fourth in the jockeys' championship, but with rising star Little Bridge and ageing legend Sacred Kingdom he is hoping to open up a different avenue to success.
Third to Douglas Whyte and Brett Prebble in the two terms prior, Purton was pipped for that placing by Darren Beadman on the final day in 2010-11.
He is comfortable with his ranking - and his improved win tally each season - but realises the current landscape means he has limitations.
'Without the backing of one of the big four stables, I have to accept that third or fourth is as well as I can do,' said Purton, who rode 53 winners last season.
'I pick up a winner here and there for everyone at different times, but Dougie has John Size behind him, Brett has Caspar Fownes and Darren Beadman has John Moore.
'The bulk of Tony Cruz's rides last season went to Matt Chadwick, or Gerald Mosse when Matty was on the sidelines. There's nowhere to get a foothold with those yards so, with that in mind, I've been happy with third and fourth. What I have tended to lack though is a big headline horse,' he said.
Last year, Purton linked with the Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained Little Bridge as he charged through the classes with wins at his first five starts. They will reunite as one of the strong fancies for the season's opening feature, the HKSAR Chief Executive's Cup, a week on Sunday.
'He felt really well this morning and there could be a major win in him this season. Picking up the ride on Sacred Kingdom is a great compliment,' Purton said.
'He was still enormously competitive in the big domestic sprints last season, even though he is getting on, and it's a position of great trust to get on a horse like that. He oozes class when you work him.
'I may have gone as far as I can go on the championship but I'd love to start picking up these sorts of horses consistently in the big races. That's where I have got plenty of upside.'
Upside is the word on Purton's race fitness, too, after some sections of the media made much of the Australian's return to work last week weighing 129 pounds.
'Actually, that's about what I come back every year. At times during the season, if I'm not riding, my weight can get up to 125 pounds easily and I work hard to keep my weight manageable,' Purton said.
'But during the summer, I go back to Australia and there it's winter. You tend to eat a bit more when the weather is cooler - and I'm not riding at all - so I'm happy to let myself go a bit. It hurts getting it back off, but it does my body good to have a holiday, too.'