Umberto Rispoli’s rich run of form can continue at Happy Valley on Wednesday but if his best two chances salute they won’t be anywhere near the exorbitant odds of last weekend’s blowout results.
The Italian has 10 wins this term, but has hit his straps with five wins and five placings from the past four meetings and on Sunday at Sha Tin he defied the odds to punch home a long-priced treble.
A Good Fit ($18.50), Giant Turtle ($17.95) and Happy Agility ($86.30) all-up would have delivered a HK$280,000-plus payout for a HK$10 ticket.
Rispoli heads to Happy Valley for six rides including in-form sprinter Merrygowin and last start winner Bank On Red, with both horses likely to be at the top of markets for their respective races.
Merrygowin has sneaked into Class Three without winning in two starts this season, a narrow defeat as odds-on favourite putting the five-year-old up two points to 61.
Ironically, it was Rispoli who was on the winner, Sharpmind, and now with Zac Purton unable to make the weight up in grade, trainer Paul O’Sullivan has looked to the popular rider at 117 pounds in the Class Three Irving Handicap (1,200m).
“Of course he is stepping up in class but I think he is a Class Three horse,” Rispoli said. “That draw [barrier three] gives him a great chance, there’s probably going to be some speed in the race but our tactics will probably be to try and be box seat, and with the rail out in the C + 3 it’s a big advantage. Just ride him classic Happy Valley, C+ 3-style.”
Rispoli kept a cool head when he won on Bank On Red last start and gets back aboard the John Size-trained miler in the Class Three Stirling Handicap (1,650m).
Bank On Red had settled into a rhythm sitting in second place two weeks ago when Sam Clipperton went for home early on Go Beauty Go.
Rather than match motors with the surprise leader when he made his mid-race move, Rispoli slowly built his horse’s revs.
“If you rush a horse you can unbalance him, and he isn’t the right type of horse to be trying to do things too fast,” Rispoli said.
“He is quite one-paced. I had the chance to ride him twice before that win so I had got to know him, and knew his strengths and weaknesses, so when I saw Sam moving around I didn’t panic. This time from barrier eight it is going to be a little bit harder to get across but I think he gets a chance again.”
Rispoli rides three horses for Benno Yung Tin-pang, with stayer Gold Velvet the pick of the trio in the Class Five Fife Handicap (2,200m).
“I think he will handle the 2,200m,” Rispoli said, adding that he will be ready for whatever race pattern emerges.
“Sometimes in these 2,200m races, if there’s no speed, somebody can take off down the back stretch and everybody’s plans can change. But my horse has drawn well, so I won’t be too far back. If nobody wants to lead, I would be fine with that.”