It takes more than a run of near misses to get the better of Umberto Rispoli, who is hoping the camera finally smiles on him aboard a handful of solid chances at Happy Valley this Thursday.
The upbeat Italian has had to grin and bear it during a frustrating start to the season which has seen him go close without winning on numerous occasions.
Two winners and 15 placings tell the tale of the fine margins at play and Rispoli did everything right when beaten a short head aboard Cheerfuljet at the Valley last week before suffering a similar fate on M Reborn at Sha Tin’s Saturday fixture.
Rispoli was understandably frustrated to go so close but has learned to bounce back in more ways than one during his time in Hong Kong and feels Thursday’s Australian Boomerang-themed party night provides the platform for him to do so again.
“It’s always hard to accept when you have those near misses but you have to shake it off quickly,” he said.
“What’s done is done. Whether it is injury or a few defeats you just have to prove yourself again and I’ve shown I can do that several times here already.”
Rispoli is active in seven of eight races on Thursday with fair prospects on at least three mounts, starting with back-to-form sprinter Love Chungwha in race two and followed by Super Wise and Let’s Take It Easy in race six and race seven, respectively.
He added: “Love Chungwha was second to a good horse in Country Star last time and I hope he’s ready to win on his third start again just like last season.
“Super Wise won a 1200m trial in good style the other day and I think he can go well over 1000 metres, while I really like the way Let’s Take It Easy galloped on Monday and he’s back at his best trip after a good run over 1200 metres.”
Rispoli admits he was a little reckless in his younger days but, thanks to former boss Alduino Botti, the former wild child is now a much more settled father and family man.
“Mr Botti taught me to focus on working hard every day,” he said.
“Whatever happens at work I now have a wonderful family and a baby boy to go home to and I just want to win more races as having kids and a family is quite expensive!”
Red Warrior takes the Hong Kong Country Club Challenge Cup under Zac Purton, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Purton feels Country can Star again on Class 3 bow
Country Star may well be the banker of the night for many punters when he lines up for the Waratah Handicap (1200m) and rider Zac Purton expects another bold show when John Size’s highly promising gelding steps out from stall 4 for his Class 3 debut in Thursday’s finale.
The Starcraft gelding met traffic trouble over 1000m on his debut but made amends with a striking success over 1200m on his return to the city venue three weeks ago and an eye-catching trial behind illustrious stablemates Ivictory and Hot King Prawn last Friday suggests the three-year-old has a lot in his favour despite an 11-point rise.
“It was pretty straightforward last time as I drew a perfect gate in stall two and the speed was pretty good,” said Purton.
“He has a bit of a light mouth, so the tempo of that race really suited him and everything fell into place,” he added.
“Hopefully he’s taken some confidence from that and he’s drawn another nice gate, so let’s hope he can keep improving and keep winning.”
Purton teams up with another of Size’s young brigade when former British galloper Red Warrior tackles the Roselle Handicap (race seven) but stall 12 will test his tactical awareness over 1650m on the Valley’s tricky “C” track.
Red Warrior won three from four in England for Jamie Osborne and clicked at the second time of asking in Hong Kong when forging clear of Amazing Satchmo, who re-opposes on 6lb better terms, at the Valley last month.
Purton found smooth sailing from stall eight that night but only two of the last 44 horses drawn in the outside gate over 1650m on the “C” track have managed to defy their wide barrier.
A poor place rate for those drawn 12 makes for equally worrying reading and Purton feels another swift start could be a big plus.
“He jumped well and put himself in the right spot to do the job nicely in a pretty moderately-run race last time,” he said.
“He’s had a couple of runs here now, so he should take some fitness out of that, but the draw is trickier this time. It’s not good.”
Thursday’s eight-race card starts at 7.15pm with the Class 4 Aster Handicap (1200m).