Hong Kong’s new long-shot king Alberto Sanna heads to Happy Valley for seven rides on Wednesday night with the same mindset that helped him land the season’s longest-priced winner last weekend with 117-1 chance Smart Charade.
“I just ride every race like it’s my last,” said Sanna, whose six winners this season have come at an average odds of 27-1.
“I’m not a person who looks at the odds. I don’t care, I just do my job and the ride the horse as well as possible. But it’s not easy to ride 100-1 shots.”
Like most newcomers to the competitive Hong Kong racing scene, the Italian has had to get used to steering horses with very little chance of winning, with just 10 of his 149 rides so far starting single figures in betting.
“Of course this is normal, I’m new, people are just starting to get to know me – it’s impossible to be on favourites all of the time,” Sanna said.
Still, now that Sanna has gained some traction with winners at the past two meetings, he has no plans of easing up.
“I arrived thinking short-term but now I want to stay,” he said. “Now that I have got one foot in, I want to get the other foot in and establish myself here. It’s been difficult to get this far, so why not try and make something of it? Everything was looking a little bit negative to start with, riding a lot of horses with no chance, but when you get a win or two, everything looks nicer. I like Hong Kong a lot more now.”
Typical of the 32-year-old’s approach was a last start placing on outsider Association Fans two weeks ago, with the five-year-old now drawn better in the Class Four Pedder Handicap (1,650m).
Associations Fans, a known recalcitrant in the pre-race parade ring, has drawn barrier three but Sanna said that doesn’t mean he will ride the back-marker much differently.
“He still has to come from behind, but put it this way, if he had drawn barrier three and not gate 11 last time I think he probably would have won,” he said.
“You cannot put him on the pace, he has to run his own race and feel comfortable. It doesn’t matter if they go fast or slow, he is the type of horse that he has to have a relaxed feeling or he won’t finish the race off. That is the key to him, to help him stay calm as he has been a tricky horse in the past, jig-jogging and dancing around before the start. I’ll do my best to keep him quiet.”