RECENT Sydney arrival Zac Purton is heading back to home territory on the Northern Rivers next week in a bid to win the $125,000 Qantaslink Ramornie Handicap at Grafton.
Purton has taken the Ramornie ride on Poetic Papal, prepared at the Gold Coast by former Grafton trainer David Kelly.
Kelly, who left Grafton 18 months ago to train in Queensland, is also aiming for a triumphant homecoming with the last start Brisbane winner.
Poetic Papal sprung one of the biggest upsets of the Brisbane winter carnival when he beat last year's Ramornie winner Takeover Target in the Carlton Draught Stakes at Eagle Farm on June 25.
Japanese apprentice Yoshi Yamazaki rode Poetic Papal, who scored at odds of $71 to give Kelly, a former Northern Rivers jockey, his biggest training success.
Yamazaki has since been sidelined by an injury, leaving Kelly to go after a top senior jockey to ride Poetic Papal in the Ramornie.Purton, who recently took the next step in his rising career by relocating from Queensland to Sydney, was an obvious choice as he rode a host of winners for Kelly during his apprenticeship when based at Coffs Harbour with Trevor Hardy.
Kelly has twice gone frustratingly close to winning one of the Grafton carnival's major races.
He was shattered when Good Result was beaten a short half head by Sir Breakfast in the Ramornie in 2003, coming just days after stablemate McNamara also beaten into second place in the South Grafton Cup in a photo finish.
Purton's best finish in one of the Grafton carnival's feature races was a third placing in the Grafton Cup on Ledgerdemain two years ago.
Another early match up for the Ramornie is the booking of top Sydney rider Danny Beasley for the Gai Waterhouse-trained three-year-old Roadagain.
Beasley will replace Chris Munce, who has ridden Roadagain in all his seven starts for four wins.
Roadagain has had one start since his fourth in the Magic Millions Trophy at the Gold Coast in January, resuming with a sixth as favourite in the Pacesetter Stakes won by Langborghini at Gosford on June 23.