The Hong Kong career of Italian jockey Alberto Sanna is starting to look like a case study in persistence after he carried off a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday night including his biggest win yet on Gold Mount.
In February, Sanna had been in the doldrums, with two wins since the start of his stint in December, none for seven weeks and he wasn’t attracting the kind of support to change that.
But Sanna only worked himself harder, waiting for his luck to turn, and has ridden seven winners in the past six weeks and on Wednesday night not only won the Class One on Gold Mount, but he was loaded up with praise by the horse’s trainer, former champion rider, Tony Cruz.
“I think Alberto Sanna is soon going to be hot property. Everyone likes him, he tries very hard and he gave this horse a perfect ride tonight,” Cruz said, as he admitted that Happy Valley hardly looked the right arena for a horse who comes from last in his races.
“Happy Valley is a track for front-runners but I thought Gold Mount would be able to run here and run well. I told Alberto ‘you’ll be last all the way but the horse has a big finish – just stay inside, don’t come outside’ and he rode it perfectly.”
Jockey @Albe_Sanna scores his first Class 1 win in Hong Kong, producing a terrific rails-hugging ride on Gold Mount to take him from last to first in the Happy Valley Vase #HKRacing #HappyWednesdayHK pic.twitter.com/mtLModLL50— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) March 28, 2018
A conspicuous last for the first 1,200m of the race, Sanna drew on the replays of Gold Mount’s wins for Gerald Mosse last season and Zac Purton earlier this campaign – both times never going around a horse.
“Gerald was my idol when I was growing up and I saw how he won on him at Sha Tin and I tried to do the same,” Sanna said. “I think going inside keeps the horse focused on racing, keeps him concentrating. I wasn’t too worried when I was last because I was behind Eagle Way and Dinozzo, so I thought I was following the right horses. But when the turn came, they both went outside and I stayed in and that was the difference in the photo.”
It was a golden double for Sanna, who had won the Class Five with a similar fence-hugging display on Golden Kid, and also for Cruz, who had won the other trophy event with California Whip (Joao Moreira).
Cruz said the programme forced him to run Gold Mount on Wednesday night, looking for a suitable distance at 1,800m, but he will go back to the big time races at Sha Tin now.
“A mile is too short, he can handle 1,800m but now he’ll go QE II Cup and possibly the Champions & Chater Cup over even further,” he said.
John Moore said runner-up Eagle Way is unlikely to go to the QE II Cup, preferring to drop back to a handicap in the Queen Mother Memorial Cup over a more suitable 2,400m before the Champions & Chater Cup at that distance.
Joao Moreira steers California Whip to victory in the first of the night's features at Happy Valley, the Class 2 Volunteers' Challenge Cup (1200m) #HKRacing #HappyWednesdayHK pic.twitter.com/1gOGdpyBRb— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) March 28, 2018
It was a night for doubles, with Moreira also winning on Infinity Endeavour for John Size, Nash Rawiller landed two with Hero Time for Richard Gibson and Sharp Sailor for Danny Shum Chap-shing, which in turn gave Shum a pair.
Hero Time made it two wins in succession with his victory, the four-year-old looking to have benefited from recent runs and improving his racing manners.
“He was only a cheap horse but I came here confident from a good draw,” Gibson said. “We’ve done a bit of work on his starts and he was good tonight and he looks to be maturing well.”
Jack Wong Ho-nam scored on Prince Harmony for Chris So Wai-yin but the win came at a cost with the apprentice also earning the dubious distinction of being the only victim of a careless riding charge in the stewards’ room.