Purton forced to abandon Court Command in Stradbroke
A back injury has forced Hong Kong-based jockey Zac Purton to relinquish rides in three feature races on Super Saturday at Eagle Farm, including Court Command in the Group One Stradbroke Handicap.
Purton, 26, hurt his back when he fell in a barrier trial at Sha Tin on Tuesday and could not make the trip to ride the Liam Birchley-trained Court Command in the $1 million 1400-metre feature.
He has also forfeited the mounts on the Peter Moody-trained pair Markus Maximum in the Group One Queensland Derby (2400m) and Reggie in the Group Two Brisbane Cup (2400m).
Court Command is a $21 chance in fixed betting markets which have Sydney sprinter Black Piranha the favourite at $3.80 following rain and a track downgrade to a heavy nine at Eagle Farm.
"I was riding a horse which snapped its leg and I was thrown heavily to the ground," Purton said.
"I was a little sore and I thought I would be okay so I rode at Happy Valley last night but my back got worse and worse.
"It got to the stage where I had to stand down after riding in only three races.
"I couldn’t roll over in bed this morning and I’ve gone downhill even more since then."
Damian Browne, 36, will now partner Court Command while Moody is yet to choose replacements for Markus Maximus and Reggie.
Reggie, who won the Group Three Premier’s Cup (2200m) at Doomben on May 23, will remain with Moody after the mare was sold to a syndicate headed by Simon O’Donnell for $240,000 at Thursday’s National Broodmare Sale at the Gold Coast.
Browne, who also rides Rockdale in the Queensland Derby, is restricted to only four rides per day as he continues his riding comeback following two serious falls.
The former Kiwi rider shattered his left leg in a Gold Coast tumble three years ago and smashed the same leg in a second fall five weeks into his riding comeback at Caloundra in March last year.
He had two plates and 17 screws inserted in the leg after the first fall and a rod was inserted following his latest fall.
Purton was disappointed not to return to Brisbane for the big Stradbroke day after riding Court Command at his last start when the five-year-old finished 15th to Apache Cat in last month’s Group One Doomben 10,000 (1350m).
Purton only made it to the racetrack five minutes before the start of the Doomben 10,000 after his plane was diverted to Townsville where it was delayed for refuelling.
"I was looking forward to coming back to ride on Stradbroke day," Purton said.
"Court Command has drawn a good barrier (three) and will be suited dropping back to a handicap after running at weight-for-age in the 10,000.
"I’ve heard the track is quite heavy and I’ve got a question mark on how he’ll go in the wet.
By Glenn Davis