Price is right for Purton

Running: Belle De Coeur will be riding in Saturday's Sapphire Stakes at Randwick. Picture: JENNY EVANS
Running: Belle De Coeur will be riding in Saturday's Sapphire Stakes at Randwick. Picture: JENNY EVANS

His promising career as an apprentice was punctuated by a shocking fall and limited opportunities after a brave comeback but Luke Price rolled back the years in his most poignant moment as a trainer.

The young South Coast horseman will saddle up his first ever Group runner on one of Australian racing's biggest days, booking Doncaster-winning hoop Zac Purton to pilot his headline horse Belle De Coeur.

Price and Purton have known each other ever since the pair blazed a trail through the jockey ranks more than a decade ago yet have very different stories to tell now.

Price successfully trains in tandem with father Robert as his own career is about to take off while Purton is locked in a struggle with Brazilian ace Joao Moreira for the jockey title in the Asian racing mecca of Hong Kong.

But they'll combine with Belle De Coeur in the $300,000 Group 2 Sapphire Stakes (1200m) on the second day of The Championships at Randwick on Saturday.

"Dad and I have had a few [Group calibre horses], but not like this," Price said. "They've promoted the meeting well and just to have a runner on the day is a huge buzz.

"It's good for the whole stable and for dad as well. It helps you get out of bed in the morning and she's got a lot of class about her. Hopefully we can see a bit of that on Saturday."

So taken with the then filly after an off-season Rosehill win last June, Price declared he hoped to set Belle De Coeur on a Myer Classic path.

But as is so often the case in racing, Belle De Coeur went amiss as she injured a flexor tendon and has been nursed back to full health since.

"I always thought she was up to this level and I've always had a high opinion of the mare," Price said. "You're not going to know until you put her into a race like this.

"It's a shame we had to go to Group 2 level straight away but it looked like the best option in the calendar so we're going to give it a go."

He'll be doing it with one of the best saddle merchants in the business after Purton's fly-in mission last week worked a treat in the Doncaster aboard Sacred Falls.

"I've known Zac for a long time and we spoke last week," Price said.

"He wasn't going to ride [at] 54 kilograms but he messaged me on Monday morning and he said he was going to ride at that weight and he'll ride the mare."


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