Zac Purton will be riding in Brisbane for the first time since 2009 on Saturday and the champion Hong Kong jockey is excited to be able to partner Rock Diva in the 2014 Queensland Derby.
Purton has not ridden in Brisbane since he finished 15th on Court Command in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 23 2009, but accepted the opportunity to ride Rock Diva for owners Raffles Racing after he steered their star galloper Sacred Falls to victory in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Rock Diva was arguably the run of the race in the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm last weekend, storming home late from the tail of the field to finish fourth, and Purton told Sky Racing HQ that he believes the daughter of Lucky Unicorn is a genuine winning chance in the Queensland Derby on Saturday.
“I am really looking forward to coming home to ride Rock Diva,” Purton said.
“Obviously, she didn’t draw that well in the Oaks the other day and had to go back a long away, but her run was terrific.
“She has to step-up against the boys this time and she hasn’t drawn the best again, but she is in great form, is rock hard fit and is sure to run the distance.
“She is going to get her chance.”
Rock Diva did not fare particularly well at the 2014 Queensland Derby barrier draw, drawing barrier 14 for the Group 1 event, and Purton is unsure whether he will have the chance to take up a forward position on the three-year-old.
The leading hoop said that he will follow the riding instructions that he will receive from trainer Jim Pike and the Raffles Racing team and said he is yet to formulate a game plan for the $500,000 event.
“14 is not too much different to about 20 that I think that she jumped from the other day and it is not a given to get a position,” Purton said.
“I will leave it up to the boys as to how they want me to ride her and they do a lot of work and are very switched on, so what they say I will take on board.
“At this point in time I don’t really have a game plan and it was just a matter of making sure that she came through her run the other day and she was going to get to the race.
“We will see how the track is riding on the day and that will have a bearing on what we do as well.”
Purton is chasing his first win in the Queensland Derby after previously missing the placings with Belmonte (2006), Gaze On (2005) and King Latarmiss (2004).