Espindola gets off the mark, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Espindola gets off the mark

New Brazilian jockey bags first win on Roda Robot, a Jason Ong ‘frequent flyer’ classic

Brazilian jockey Vitor Espindola had a good hunch he would not have to wait too long to break his duck at Kranji.

From six rides, mostly outsiders, at his launch on Nov 18, he could not get the fairy-tale start he had hoped for.

He did hit around the mark with one second on Ciango ($57) and one third on Condor ($31).

Spurred on by the two placings, Espindola got on the board at his 10th mount at the following meeting on Nov 25 – Roda Robot ($24) for leading trainer Jason Ong in the $50,000 Class 4 race (1,700m).

From a one-out, one-back spot, Roda Robot got flushed out four wide by the home turn, but still responded to Espindola’s urgings to beat favourite Super Bowl (Manoel Nunes) by 1¼ lengths.

Long shot Rocky (Yusoff Fadzli) ran on late to settle for third place, another ½-length away. The winning time was 1min 46.73sec for the 1,700m on Polytrack.

“I had many placings last week, but I knew my turn would come soon,” said the former Sao Paulo-based Espindola, who plied his trade in Malaysia for eight months before heading down South.

“I knew I had good rides today. Roda Robot was one of my best chances.

“I watched his videos and I saw he got tired in the last 100m at his last start.

“Today he jumped good and I put him 3-4. He was very relaxed and, in the straight, he gave a good kick.

“I’ve always wanted to ride in Singapore and today I rode my first winner here. I’m very happy.”

It also gave Espindola a belated happy 21st birthday (Nov 23) present, though the note was later soured by a one-day suspension incurred for careless riding on Fireworks.

The “happy” theme was not restricted to just the rider, but also the horse.

Ong said that there was no special recipe to Roda Robot’s incredible hardiness, but to just keep him happy – putting a new spin to the saying “the more the merrier”.

After an unplaced debut run on Nov 26, 2022, the Mongolian Khan four-year-old has clocked up 20 races in 2023 – which translated to around two outings a month.

That average has ramped up to three a month in the last four months – 13 starts.

It was during those days of quick back-ups that Roda Robot chalked up his three wins (1,600m to 2,000m).

“He’s enjoying his racing, he needs racing to tame him down as he can get really fresh if he stays in his box,” said Ong.

“He’s not only learning with more racing, but it also improves his fitness.

“We send him for vet checks twice a week. He is a good doer, but we make sure he eats well and he is happy, mentally.”

At the slightest sign something is not right, Ong will take the necessary corrective action.

“When I put blinkers on, he was still very keen. I decided to take them off, and he did very well without them,” he said.

“He’s a super horse with a lot of upsides. I’m very proud of him.

“There’s a Class 4 race (1,400m) this Saturday (Dec 2). It’s tempting, but we’ll see how he pulls up, which is usually not a problem.

“He’s still learning, he’s still young. He’s a genuine stayer and has a nice future ahead of him.”

At eight years of age, Ong’s second Nov 25 winner, My Boss does not have as much scope. But, the son of Rock ‘N’ Pop seems to also thrive on racing.

Since joining Ong in August, he has raced eight times for four wins (seven all-up), the last one in the $30,000 Class 5 Division 2 race (1,400m), just before Roda Robot’s.

Ong reiterated that he had no qualms about racing horses two or even three weeks in a row, so long as they are still bouncing around.

“We’ve also turned My Boss into a happy horse. He’s enjoying his racing,” said Ong who, on 59 winners, leads reigning champion Tim Fitzsimmons by four.

“He came to me with a low rating (22), and had a few issues, but they are all sorted now.

“It’s only after he ran second and beat a few fair horses that he gained the confidence.”