Curatolo snares a double on Kranji debut
French jockey wins on Golden Spark and Eden Garden for trainer CT Kuah
It was just a normal Class 5 race but the euphoria of winning for the first time in a foreign land was greater than great.
On his way back to the winner's enclosure, a smiling Macau-based French jockey Ryan Curatolo waved to the Kranji crowd lined at the steel railing and did a high-five with the winner GOLDEN SPARK's groom and trainer CT Kuah.
Engaged by Kuah to ride at yesterday's Hari Raya Haji afternoon meeting, Curatolo was only on his second ride at Kranji to greet the judge in Race 5.
For good measure, the 25-year-old made it a back-to-back double in Race 7 with the Kuah-trained EDEN GARDEN, who came from second-last to take the Class 5 Div 2 event over 1,400m by one-and-a-quarter lengths.
Curatolo made his debut on the Kuah-trained Aeolus in the Open Maiden event over 1,200m Race 4 but finished third-last behind the Steven Burridge-trained debut winner, $120 outsider NIMITZ.
The Marseille-born rider finished fourth on his final ride, the Kuah-trained grey Any Rumour, in Race 8, another Class 5 affair over the Poly 1,600m.
Although he had finished in the rear in his last seven starts following his only win, Curatolo's winner Golden Spark was installed as the $15 favourite.
Perhaps it was his nice second behind Nova Classic in his trial on Aug 17 that spurred racegoers to pour in their money in what was a weak Class 5 race over Golden Spark's winning trip of 1,000m on the Polytrack.
With a favourable gate 2 in the field of eight, the game plan was to lead but Curatolo adopted Plan B after being beaten for speed and it yielded the same winning result.
Curatolo eased back to sit third behind Thoth Warrior, who led from Rikioh.
At the halfway stage, Thoth Warrior led by about a length from Rikioh, with Golden Spark a lonely third, two-and-a-half lengths away.
Rikioh went after Thoth Warrior shortly after straightening. Curatolo peeled Golden Spark out from the behind of the two leaders and, once he saw daylight, Golden Spark started to lengthen.
Rikioh hit the front in the final 200m but was in turn collared by Golden Spark, who went on to win by a length in 59.22sec.
"I'm very delighted and I'm very thankful to the Singapore Turf Club as well as the trainer, CT Kuah," said Curatolo, who had earlier in the year applied for a long-term Kranji licence but was unsuccessful.
"It's an amazing day and I hope (to have) many like that."
On his winner, he said: "I was instructed to get to the front, you know. But, when I saw the speed was too fast, I just decided to take back a little bit, cut the corner, waited for the straight and everything worked out well.
"The horse was well trained. I was just sitting on it."
The double from four rides, which constituted a 50 per cent strike rate, has surely boosted Curatolo's chances to have a second crack at a full-time Kranji licence.
But, first, he will be heading to Japan next week to take up a two-month riding contract.
"I'll be in Japan by Monday," he said.
"I'm flying from Singapore to Hong Kong and Hong Kong to Japan. It's going to be a lot of flights but I'm looking forward to it. Japan is going to be a good time as well."
Curatolo started his riding career in his native France before heading for America, where he rode 185 winners, including three Grade 3s, at various tracks such as Saratoga, Belmont, Santa Anita and New York, where he won the apprentice jockey's title in 2012.
In 2013, he relocated to Macau to take up a three-month offer. He became one of the leading jockeys and stayed on.
He is currently fifth with 26 winners in the former Portuguese enclave and, only on July 30, he captured the Group 1 Macau Gold Cup with Bo Bo So Cute.
All up, he has raked in about 300 winners.