A suspension has seen Zac Purton’s chances of stealing the jockeys’ championship from Joao Moreira slip away but the Australian returns to action with a solid book of rides at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
It was Moreira who missed more meetings during the first part of the season, absent for seven of the first 36, with Purton missing just two during the same stretch.
It allowed Purton to close the gap to five wins at one stage, but that stretched to 10 before a ban incurred in Australia two weekends ago allowed Moreira to pull further away.
Moreira’s lead is now 15 with 26 meetings to go and Purton admits he will “need some luck” if he is to prevent the Brazilian winning a fourth title.
“The last three weeks have been a blow, things were going really well up until then, but we really are going to need some things to go my way now,” Purton said.
He has a strong book of seven rides that includes four early favourites and a couple of second favourites.
Back in February, Dr Proactive was forced to work too hard from a wide barrier but gets a great chance to make amends from barrier one in the Class Four Shek Kip Mei Handicap (1,000m).
“Like a lot of young horses, he hasn’t quite worked things out yet but he gets the good gate this time and hopefully he can make the best use of that,” Purton said.
Since then Dr Proactive has trialled twice in impressive fashion and seems well prepared for this.
Trainer David Hall has gone for blinkers as he brings the four-year-old back in trip but Purton warned that a low draw over 1,000m at the Valley came with its own challenges.
“It looks like there is quite a bit of speed in the race so there will be quite a bit of pressure,” he said. “I’ll be just trying to give him the best run I can.”
Purton opens the night on the David Ferraris-trained Raichu and indicated that he won’t be bustling the five-year-old from the draw.
“He doesn’t have a lot of speed early anyway but we just need to let him find his rhythm,” he said. “Hopefully it is a fast run race where he can finish strong late. We will be looking for a trail into it and I’m sure he will run well. He is a consistent horse at this grade, distance and track.”