After two winless meetings, French jockey Ryan Curatolo bounced back to the winner’s circle with a riding double on Friday night.
The former Macau-based rider began his new Singapore stint with one winner apiece (Yaya Papaya and Magic Paint) at his first two meetings, but went quiet after he fired blanks at the next two.
Curatolo was, however, back in the swing of things on Friday, when he made no mistake aboard $11 favourite Claudia’s Beauty in the $20,000 Open Maiden race over 1400m before ending the night with a flourish aboard $25 shot Chalaza in the last race, the $80,000 Class 3 race over 1200m.
The US-trained hoop actually found himself in a pickle when he lost his whip as Chalaza was gaining momentum in a hotly-contested last furlong, but keeping his cool, he kept riding the Road To Rock five-year-old hands and heels to land the rewards as he kept his rivals at bay by half-a-length on the line.
Xiong Fong (Ng Choon Kiat) took second place, with $14 favourite Scorpio (Zawari Razali) given every chance but having to settle for third spot another head away. The winning time was 1min 9.82secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.
“When I lost my whip at the 200m mark, I grabbed his mane and pushed him with all my might, and luckily, he kept going,” said a relieved Curatolo at the winner’s circle.
“The horse was well placed. He was in the right spot in the race and was well trained.
“I got him balanced at the top of the straight and he produced a good effort to win.
“Things are going well for me. I’m working hard every morning and I will just have to keep it up.”
The win did not come without a hefty price for the Frenchman, though. In his exuberance, he raised his hand in a victorious salute, which was, however done just before the line, a celebratory gesture regarded as a transgression in the Stewards’ copybook and which lightened his pocket of $500.
Chalaza’s winning trainer Steven Burridge’s kind words might go some way in alleviating the pain a little for Curatolo.
“Ryan’s riding very well. He rode the horse good last start and he’s delivered tonight,” said the former jockey.
“He got him balanced right up in the straight and he timed the run very well. This horse needs to be ridden quiet, if he is too close, he plods home.
“With 57kgs on his back tonight, he was very courageous and has done a very good job.”
Raced by the Lim’s & Mark’s Stable, Chalaza was ringing up his fourth win from 13 starts for stakes earnings that have now tipped over the $180,000 mark.