Alberto Sanna went out for the fifth race at Happy Valley on Wednesday night concerned that his late-season call-up would ultimately undersell his abilities. But those fears were banished when 14/1 shot Triumphant Jewel provided the Italian with a maiden Hong Kong score at the city track’s final fixture this term.
“Before the race I had a thought that I would leave Hong Kong without showing my best side, without having a chance to show my skills, so I was a little bit sad. But then this happens – it’s great,” Sanna said after unwrapping himself from compatriot and colleague Umberto Rispoli’s celebratory embrace.
Alberto Sanna enjoys a Hong Kong breakthrough aboard Triumphant Jewel in race five, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Sanna, who has been based in Qatar and Bahrain in recent years, was brought in for the season’s final three meetings to stave off a potential jockey shortage. After five blanks at his Sha Tin debut on Sunday, Italy’s former champion apprentice trailed home 10th and 12th aboard his first two Happy Valley mounts. But then came the Class 3 Let Me Fight Handicap (1000m) and Triumphant Jewel’s knock-out run.
“He jumped very well and he travelled very strongly, so I sat midfield in a good position on the rail,” Sanna recalled after delivering a seventh win of the campaign to trainer Derek Cruz. “I followed Neil Callan and Joao (Moreira), so I was following two of the best jockeys and they took me home. The horse gave a really strong finish in the straight.”
Triumphant Jewel landed his sixth Hong Kong win, and first for Cruz, with a determined stretch run that saw him overhaul the front-running Money Boy deep inside the final furlong. The six-year-old stopped the clock at 57.08s, scoring by a length and a quarter.
“Second meeting; first winner - that feels better!” Sanna added.