A spectacular fall, a stint on the sidelines and a frustrating run of second placings have hampered Umberto Rispoli’s season so far but the Italian jockey hopes sprinter Very Rich Man can help turn things around on Thursday night.
Rispoli missed more than 10 weeks after suffering leg injuries in a horror fall at Happy Valley in November, but his bad luck hasn’t stopped since returning and extending his contract through to the end of season.
Two wins from 117 rides doesn’t tell the full story of the Italian’s season from hell, with the always-positive rider finishing second 11 times and third 13 times, giving him a place strike-rate much higher than most riders.
“At least I’m always in the money,” Rispoli said. “A lot of the time there are not many more things I can do, I’m on outsiders a lot of the time and there have been many times that I have been beaten by the favourite.”
Very Rich Man returns to action after being withdrawn from a Class Four with lameness on March 22 and looks a good each-way chance in the Siu Sai Wan Handicap.
Since then, trainer Gary Ng Ting-keung sent Very Rich Man back to the trials and the four-year-old was impressive with Rispoli aboard.
“The horse was scratched, he would have been a chance if he was right, he looks much better now and he is definitely my best chance,” Rispoli said. “He is a very honest horse and that trial showed me he is ready to run a good race.”
Very Rich Man has already won twice at the city track this term and helping his cause this time is barrier two after a couple of wide gates.
“The barrier helps a lot, he is a pretty fast horse so he can take advantage of it,” Rispoli said. “Even with the wide draws he can lead. Beauty Connection, with Joao Moreira, is the one to beat I think, and it helps that I am drawn right alongside him.”
Rispoli has seven rides overall and believes that Never Better could spring a surprise with a better gate in the Tin Sau Handicap.
“He has raced mostly at 1,200m, but with a nice draw at 1,650m you can box him up, put him to sleep and you never know, last start he had to go right back from the start,” he said.
“Amazing Feeling is the one to beat, but the barriers are so important at Happy Valley. My last two rides Iron Boy and Hero Look are both looking in good form, but have drawn bad barriers.”