Zac Purton came crashing back down to earth on Sunday night after stewards suspended the star jockey for three meetings following his two stunning Group One victories, but the Australian is hoping to put that behind him on Wednesday night.
The reigning champion jockey will take seven rides into the meeting, including a number of strong chances and will be looking to add to his winning total before his enforced holiday begins after Sunday’s card.
Purton will team up with Happy Valley specialist Caspar Fownes for three rides with the pair forming a formidable combination over the past month.
His best chance appears to be Smart Baby, who will be gunning for three consecutive wins in the Class Four Mesia Handicap (1,800m), with the horse racing in career-best form.
“He is racing very well and it is the best he has ever gone, he is attacking the line with a little bit of purpose,” he said.
With Chad Schofield riding the horse to victory last start when he stepped up in distance, Purton returns to tackle the 1,800m trip, however has been dealt no favours after drawing barrier 11.
“He was given a great ride last time, saved all the ground and got the breaks and got the job done, so we need a nice run in the race,” he said.
“He’s quite a big horse, bit of a stayer and needed things to go right for him. Like a lot of horses it just takes them a little bit of time.
“It’s not a great draw so we will see what happens.”
Purton has strong knowledge of his competition in the race after he rode King’s Man to a second placing last start.
“I thought his run last time was terrific, his last three runs have been good so he will be some chance,” he said.
While many of Fownes’ horses ridden by Purton go around as favourite at Happy Valley, the pair was able to win on Fearless Fire at the generous quote of $8.4 and the former European galloper will step up in class in the Class Three Nightjar Handicap (1,200m).
“He’s a Class Three horse, he can win in the grade so I don’t see that as a problem,” he said.
“Caspar [Fownes] said the horse was very well and he expected him to run well, his start the run before was very good, he closed it off really nicely.”
Former Australian galloper Sky Melody will also return from injury after winning in his only start this season.
Purton was able to win on the five-year-old in the first Happy Valley meeting of the season, but he has not been sighted since after vets found him to be lame in the right front leg.
Winning his first start this season comfortably, Sky Melody showed his clear ability, but Purton said there were doubts over his fitness after the three month lay-off.