Curatolo starts with a bang again

After gaining many new Kranji admirers at his one-day visit in September, French jockey Ryan Curatolo will probably see the fan base grow further following his winning return on Monday.

The former Macau-based jockey 25-year-old left all and sundry waxing lyrical about his polish after he booted home Golden Spark and Eden Garden (both for trainer Kuah Cheng Tee) from only four rides on September 1.

It was not surprising to hear the US-trained rider subsequently reapplied for a longer licence this year, after a successful stint in Japan where he rode around 20 winners.

Yaya Papaya races past Amazing Man (Noh Senari) to give newly-licensed jockey Ryan Curatolo his first win in 2018, picture Singapore Turf Club

And to prove any few sceptics that his first Singapore visit was no flash in the pan, Curatolo celebrated his new six-month licence with a winner at his very first day – Yaya Papaya.

Linking up with trainer Leslie Khoo aboard the Nadeem three-year-old, Curatolo rode a patient race, gradually improving from a mid-division to be within striking distance of favourite Amazing Man (Noh Senari) who was giving a great sight after hitting the front from the weakening Blue Diamond (Benny Woodworth) upon straightening.

For a second, it looked like Yaya Papaya ($42) would peak on his run at the 200m, but under Curatolo’s urgings, Khoo’s ward raised another gallop to shoot past Amazing Man and hold off the fast-closing Wonderful Era (John Powell) by half-a-length. Amazing Man weakened late to run third another nose away. The winning time was 1min 39.22secs for the 1600m on the Polytrack.

“It’s great to be back a winner here. A big thank you to the Singapore Turf Club for granting me another licence,” said Curatolo.

“Last time I rode for CT, but it’s encouraging to get some rides from Leslie as well. Hopefully there will be more trainers to support me soon.

“The horse (Yaya Papaya) travelled well in midfield and when I pushed him to the front, I was worried he would find the straight too long.

“I tried to get him to change his legs, which he did well, but then I had the impression he was stopping. I was a bit worried but luckily, he found another length in the last bit.”

Khoo praised Curatolo for his handling as well as executing his battle plan to a tee.

“The jockey rode him very well. He listened to my instructions which were to settle in midfield and let him come into the race,” said the former top jockey.

“I told him whatever you do, don’t rush this horse. He finished off the race very well.

“He can take the 1600m and I think now that he’s more mature, he can even go over 1800m.”

Khoo hopes that the victorious first outing at Singapore’s curtain raiser will pave the way to a much brighter season than last year’s when he finished mid-table with only 25 winners.

“It’s a good start. Let’s hope this continues and I can have a better season,” he said.

“I have around 10 new horses, a mixture of two-year-olds and three-year-olds. I’m counting a lot on them to have a good season.”

Yaya Papaya was posting his second win (first one came in one of the six Legs of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series last year) for prizemoney that has just tipped over the $100,000 mark for the Sweet Stable.