Rispoli finally breaks the ice with a sparkling double
After finally breaking through for a maiden Hong Kong win at his 76th start, relieved Italian jockey Umberto Rispoli was ruing the timing of a two-meeting suspension, but at least gained a fan in leading trainer Tony Cruz when he booted home the second half of a double.
Rispoli waited more than a month for his first two wins, and will have to wait at least one more week for another chance because of a two-meeting suspension, the 23-year-old fearing it will halt any momentum gained from his breakthrough success.
'It was unlucky and bad timing,' he said. 'It is hard to get the right horses, so hopefully I do not miss out on many good rides or winners.'
A two-time premiership winner who broke a long-standing single season record for wins in a season in his homeland, Rispoli is used to success and because of this had found the run of outs to start his two-month stint particularly frustrating.
'I've never had to wait like this in all of my life,' he said. 'In Italy it is a little bit easier for me. At home, I have an agent, you don't have to call the trainers to catch the best rides. It's tough and very different here.'
A win on the Sean Woods-trained Diamond Knight was followed by win on Life Of Beauty for Cruz, who vowed to provide more opportunities in the future.
'I like the kid a lot,' Cruz said. 'I like the boy because he is hard-working, has talent and can ride. He is very strong in the finish, I can see that, he has a lot of strength. Even though he is only a young kid, he is a very powerful boy.
'I'm very happy for him, and I'm sure he was getting frustrated, but if you stay cool and ride for the top trainers, you're sure to get results.'
Cruz said Rispoli had carried out instructions to the letter on Life Of Beauty, who the trainer described as 'not much of a horse' who had run-on from behind after suicidal sectionals were set up front.
'He rode a perfect race, I told him not to ride him for speed, just jump and wait for the straight and the horse gave something.' The jockey was relieved to get the ride, after he had to claim two pounds over on the light weight. 'I'm so happy because Tony has given me so many chances, and it was good of him to put me on this horse because I had to ride him at 117 pounds,' he said.
Rispoli set himself lofty goals of 13 wins for his two months stint and a ride in a Group One race, and he had already ridden in two Group Ones - Leading City in the Queen's Silver Jubilee and Masquerader in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby. Now Rispoli has been booked to ride Japanese triple Group Two winner Rulership for in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup in three weeks.
'I think he can run well,' Rispoli said. 'But the only problem is that the horse has not run for a long time, and might be too fresh.
'When I rode him in Dubai, he won a Group Two, but then he spent two months out, and when he came back fresh in the Sheema Classic and overraced, he fought hard but did too much and had nothing left in the finish.'