Jockey Umberto Rispoli landed a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday night to make his biggest mark on a meeting since returning from the injuries sustained in a fall at the same track last November.
Zac Purton stole the Jockey Challenge from under Rispoli’s nose when he got up in the last stride of the last race to post a treble, but the Italian was thrilled to have the night he had anyway.
In early November, he bounced off the Happy Valley track at the home turn in spectacular fashion, leaving him with a fracture ankle and a damaged knee ligament.
He surprised by getting back into action within 10 weeks but it was another month before he rode a winner in March and Starlight and Massive Power were still only his fourth and fifth successes this term.
“I’m really happy though. After you have a big tumble like that, I think it takes maybe six months before you get back to your top again,” Rispoli said.
“But the most important thing was I never lost my confidence and I worked hard to get back and then worked hard to get good rides again. I had some nice rides tonight and it was nice to get the results.”
The night ended less well, with Rispoli one of a raft of jockeys suspended through careless riding.
The Italian copped two days and a HK$5,000 fine for his ride in race three, Dylan Mo Hin-tung got two days and HK$15,000 out of a final race protest he lost, Keith Yeung Ming-lun was outed for two days and hit for HK$22,500 for his third race ride, while Joao Moreira capped a poor night by his standards, winless and with a suspension that will see him miss May 10 and 13.
Trainer Peter Ho Leung was equally thrilled at Rispoli’s win on Massive Power as the maiden performer continued a great association with part-owner Chan Kam Hung.
“Since I got my licence in 1997, the owner has always had horses with me and there are not many owners like that,” Ho said. “Massive Power only has a short dash and had been running well but not getting the win at Sha Tin so I thought switching him to Happy Valley might suit him better.”
Also switching to Happy Valley with good effect was the John Size-trained Diego Kosta, the middle pin of Purton’s three-timer sandwiched between Best Step for Caspar Fownes and Litterateur for Richard Gibson.
“His form may not have looked too good on paper but he has had excuses,” Size said after Diego Kosta got the perfect trip and saluted impressively.
“He didn’t appreciate the hard track at Sha Tin last start and disappointed, Happy Valley is more forgiving underfoot and that probably helped but he was lucky to get into a race that wasn’t overly strong too.”
Ricky Yiu Poon-fai also made the Sha Tin-Happy Valley switch a profitable one for King’s Man (Neil Callan), even though the race wasn’t quite made to order.
“After the 1,800m at Sha Tin last time, Neil said he didn’t think he ran the distance out there,” said Yiu. “I thought maybe he will run it at Happy Valley, he trialled well here and it isn’t as demanding, but there was no 1,800m race so he had to come here and drop back in distance to 1,650m as well. It wasn’t a bad win – he was never in the perfect position but still won.”