Whyte snares a double before month-long suspension
Hong Kong race round-up
Douglas Whyte started a month-long suspension at end-of-play on Saturday and the 13-time Hong Kong champion jockey made sure he signed off for an extended Christmas holiday on a positive note.
The Durban Demon has enjoyed a solid season so far and an early brace to open the meeting took his tally for the campaign to 19 winners with SOCCER BRAVE's win in the opener, followed by HEALTHY LUCK in the next race, the Lukfook Jewellery Love is Beauty Collection Handicap over 1,000m.
Trainer Manfred Man's Healthy Luck broke smartly from gate 14 and tracked the leader, Peace Combination, along the stands' side rail.
When Whyte shifted the three-year-old inwards and asked for an effort inside the final 200m, the response was pleasing.
Healthy Luck, a 6.2 chance, lengthened his strides, collared the leader close home to win by three-quarter lengths in a good time of 57.10sec.
Man was quick to note Whyte's involvement in the youngster's development. The rider had taken the reins eight times in track gallops and barrier trials since mid-October.
"Douglas has worked with him for a long time," the trainer said.
"He's been involved in giving him a good prep for this. Douglas asked to ride the horse and he has helped with his education. The horse is still green, so there should be improvement to come."
In the Class 5 opener, the Lukfook Jewellery Wedding Collection Handicap over 1,650m on the all-weather track, Whyte bustled 16-1 shot Soccer Brave from gate 5, took the lead into the first turn, snared the rail and settled back in a pace-stalking position.
And, when the South African pushed his mount between rivals at the turn into the stretch, Soccer Brave responded with a game run to draw three-and-three-quarter lengths clear of the field.
That was the first leg of a double, too, for Whyte's countryman, trainer David Ferraris, who teamed up with five-pound (2.29kg) apprentice Kei Chiong to snare the fifth, the Class 4 Lukfook Jewellery PT Bridal Collection Handicap over 1,600m with 8-1 bottomweight TRIUMPHANT LIGHT.
"He was lame behind for a long time, the whole of last season and we've just been able to get him right," Ferraris said after the six-year-old had opened his Hong Kong account at the 19th attempt.
"I looked at his New Zealand form and he led at a mile (1,600m), so as his rating was really low, we decided to put Kei on with her claim and let him lead. That's what worked.
"It's been a good day - things are going well so far this season." - HKJC