Jockey Umberto Rispoli experienced a career first aboard Big Time Baby in the Class Two Peacock Handicap (1,200m) at Sha Tin on Monday, but certainly not in a good way.
The Italian was leading the way 700m from home aboard the Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained five-year-old before his left iron snapped.
“When I took the corner, a few strides later I was travelling very well and then it just snapped,” Rispoli said.
“I have broken the stirrup a few times but I have never broken an iron, it was the first time and it’s not a good feeling. I felt it and I heard a pop, a really smooth sound and I knew I was in trouble.”
Rispoli was still able to get some purchase on the iron as he cornered for home but as soon as he tried to urge Big Time Baby on in the straight, he was forced to give up any chance of winning the race.
“I still had a little spot where I could put my toes on it and in the straight I tried to push but I could see the more I was pushing the more the iron was bending,” he said.
“I was trying to put my knee on the back of the horse, the horse was going well so if I could have, I would have tried everything I could [to win], but when I was putting the pressure on the iron was just bending.”
It was then that Rispoli knew he could only bring the horse to a halt as safely as possible, using his hand to rip his right foot out of the good iron to find his balance, sitting up on the horse in the dying stages.
“I couldn’t pull up the horse so the best way to pull up was to take out the foot and try and pull up,” he said. “When I saw the horses pass me my worry was just to pull up the horse.
“It’s a shame because the horse was going very well. It’s hard to say whether I could have won the race but it just leaves the feeling of a question mark about what I could have done with two irons.”
Hall keeps chipping away despite lean patch
After a solid start to the season which saw him rack up 12 winners before the end of last year, it’s been a lean few months for trainer David Hall but there was some respite thanks to London Hall’s win on Monday.
The four-year-old’s win in the Class Four Parus Handicap (1,800m) was Hall’s first success since Penang Hall’s victory on March 20 and only his second since January 20.
“Every day is a different day in Hong Kong, it’s been a tough couple of months for sure,” Hall said. “We haven’t got a great team of horses there to say we are going to charge to the end of season with a host of winners but we will keep chipping away and hopefully bob up here and there.”
Hall said it was a coincidence his past two winners have had “Hall” in their name, however they are owned by the same owners.
“If they keep winning, I don’t care if they want to keep calling them that,” he laughed.
London Hall notched his first win at start six after having throat surgery last September, storming home from the near the back of the field to defeat King’s Man by a neck.
“He’s a lightly raced horse and unfortunately he had to have a wind operation. He was a roarer and he’s had the tie-back surgery done and thankfully it’s been really successful,” Hall said.
“He’s been running really well, the blinkers probably made the difference today and the way the race was run, it’s probably a bit better win than it looked really or than the margin suggested. Hopefully there’s a little bit more to come from him yet.”
Band Of Brothers could be Majestic
Genuine progressive types aren’t exactly growing on trees in Paul O’Sullivan’s stable at the moment but the New Zealand trainer hopes the relative of a “great servant” is primed to help fill that void.
Band Of Brothers made it two wins from three starts with a strong victory in the Class Four Kestrel Handicap (1,400m), saluting as the $2.5 favourite with Zac Purton in the saddle.
O’Sullivan likened him to Star Majestic, who has had 58 runs for eight victories for the stable and is by the same sire as Band Of Brothers in Sakhee’s Secret.
“He’s a three-quarter brother to Star Majestic, who has been a great servant for the stable,” O’Sullivan said.
“He’s a smashing type, a beautiful animal and he looks a pretty promising type of horse. He’ll get further than this, we will possibly have to go a mile next time out depending on the programme.
“They are going to be a bit sharper in Class Three over 1,400m but he is going to drop back significantly in weight so either way he would probably be OK. He carried a lot of weight and got a bit of a buffeting in the race but finished it off pretty strongly.”
After storming home to win from near-last at his last start, Band Of Brothers showed his versatility by sitting midfield and wearing down the leaders in the straight.
“He’s certainly got no pattern of racing,” O’Sullivan said. “He drew a good gate [today] and he’s got good early speed, but he just drew wide enough last time that we took him back and he finished off well.”
O’Sullivan is confident the horse can fire again this season: “He won’t be overly taxed, that’s three runs now and he’ll probably have another three. Six is enough in their first season.”
Purton’s Perfect Match
Perfect Match nabbed his fourth victory from six starts in his debut season, saluting in the Class Three Tern Handicap (1,400m) to hand Purton a treble for the day.
It was the second time Purton has won on the horse and the Australian jockey praised trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing for his handling of the horse, which hadn’t run since January.
“Danny’s done a good job with him. He’s pushed him at the right time and backed off him at the right time. He’s given him his chance again today at the right time,” Purton said.
“He was impressive today. He hit a flat spot just prior to straightening but once he balanced up, he really let go nicely. I don’t think there was much depth to the race but he did it in very good fashion.”
Purton got the ball rolling with victory on Band Of Brothers before winning with the Caspar Fownes-trained Royal Performer in the Class Three Spoonbill Handicap (1,650m) and completing his treble in the final race of the day to move to 104 winners for the season.
Dylan’s dangerous double
Jockey Dylan Mo Hin-tung had a dirty day at the office, walking away with a five-day suspension and HK$40,000 lighter after a careless riding double.
Mo’s trouble started in race four when he was hit with a two-day ban and a HK$20,000 fine when he permitted Viva Council to shift in when not clear of Elite Boy.
It was a similar story in race 10, with Mo found guilty of failing to take sufficient measures to prevent Super Wise from shifting in when not clear of Tangmere.
That offence carried a three-day ban and a further HK$20,000 fine, meaning Mo is ineligible to ride from April 28 to May 12.