Champion jockey Zac Purton is out to make good on last-start beaten favourite Prince Of Gems after being denied clear running in the straight three weeks ago.
The Dennis Yip Chor-hong-trained four-year-old was a red-hot $1.7 favourite in his second start after a dominant debut win from barrier 13 but could not get a run at them in his second go.
Trouble loomed for Purton when he tried to pierce a gap between the two leaders while rounding the turn after travelling one back on the rail.
“Joao [Moreira on Beauty Applause] shut the door on him and that was the end of the race,” Purton said.
“He was travelling OK, he is not the type of horse that travels strongly in behind them but it was fair to assume he might have found a little bit.”
Stewards later noted that Purton attempted to make the move when there was “insufficient room”.
Prince Of Gems will step out on Sunday in the Class Four Parkes Handicap (1,200m) and tackle the all-weather surface for the first time in race conditions.
However, Purton takes confidence from a barrier trial on the surface where he performed well.
“He seems to go all right on dirt, he has trialled on it before and has trialled well enough. He is not a push-button type of horse, he needs to find the right rhythm to keep him happy so hopefully we can do that,” he said.
“He has always trialled well, he has raced well and I don’t think the surface is a problem so there is nothing to worry about.”
Purton will also jump aboard fellow Yip-trained galloper Chung Wah Spirit in the Class Three Cox’s Handicap (1,650m) on the all-weather surface.
The pair teamed up for the five-year-old’s second career win last start after a 20-run drought.
After consistently performing well on the all-weather surface, Chung Wah Spirit looks to have found his niche but will find it more difficult on Sunday when he steps back into Class Three where he has only won once.
“I think with a class drop, just the way the race was run he just found him in the perfect spot with the perfect tempo so he got the right run in the race through them [last start],” Purton said.
“Everything was laid on for him so he is going to need all those circumstances to fall his way again if he is going to be competitive.
“If he can get the same type of run as last time, he is capable [on Sunday.]”
Rounding out a strong book of rides for the Australian, Purton will also ride Paul O’Sullivan’s Band Of Brothers who was an impressive trial performer before his first start at Happy Valley.
The four-year-old ran a strong fifth placing after being heavily backed on the night.