Alberto Sanna’s long recovery from a brutal hip injury is finally complete after the Italian jockey rode his first winner in 102 days at Sha Tin on Sunday.
While Sanna’s physical recovery was complete weeks ago – he was back riding within two months of the injury after being told by doctors it would take five – it has been a mental battle for a man who admits he is “a very competitive person”.
“If I play PlayStation with my son I can’t even lose, I have to win always,” he said. “So when a type of person like me doesn’t get winners, you get worse and worse and I started to change many things but it didn’t work out and it made me feel very bad.
“I have just tried to work and wait for the winner. The last two weekends I got seconds and I was very upset, but finally today I got a winner.”
The injury, which Sanna sustained when he fell off his bike on October 26, left him with an 18cm titanium rod in his hip, but he says he is feeling “very well”.
@Albe_Sanna has had a tough run - including an injury break after a bike spill - but salutes for the first time since October as Winner Supreme shows speed and guts to hold strong favourite Meridian Genius in R2 #HKracing pic.twitter.com/y3b3XGfwES— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 27, 2019
He was somewhat lost for words after booting home the Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained Winner Supreme in the Class Four Kam Tin Handicap (1,000m).
“I was waiting so long so when it comes, I couldn’t explain it,” he said. “It was a good feeling and I’m blessed to ride for the trainers who are giving me support right now.”
It’s been a slog for Sanna, who returned to race riding on December 23 and has had to make do with what rides have his come his way.
“When you come back from injury, everything is very difficult,” he said. “I have had many injuries before but I have never been in Hong Kong, and Hong Kong is the toughest place.
“When I broke my ankle I was in Qatar and Bahrain and 35 days after the injury I rode a Group Two winner. When you win Group races everyone forgets about your injury.
“But here, I was struggling to get rides. On Wednesday [at Happy Valley] I didn’t have any rides. It was very depressing.”
And Sanna hasn’t been sitting idle while waiting for that elusive winner, working as hard as ever on his fitness and riding wherever possible.
“I agreed to go to Conghua to freshen up, stay one day there, think about myself and ride some trials,” he said.
“Even riding trials, when you get the winner on the trial, it’s not the same as a race but you get that feeling.”