Douglas Whyte is an iconic figure in Hong Kong racing for his endurance and superb riding ability, having rewarded him with 13 consecutive championship titles as well as 1.5 billion Hong Kong dollars in deposit” and now as a coach in just his third season, the South African tennis player has quickly established himself as an imposing figure in the training ranks.
Armed with a strong team behind him and fresh from two Group 1 wins in the last month, the 50-year-old – who has long called Hong Kong home – will not be idle in his recent success as he prepares a formidable team of eight for Happy Valley’s nine-race schedule tonight (Wednesday, February 23).
“Any Group 1 is a highlight in anyone’s career, and I have won both of those races (Centenary Sprint Cup and Hong Kong Gold Cup) as a racehorse and now to do that as a coach is absolutely amazing,” Whyte said.
Stronger helped Whyte take his first crown in the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) last month, while the Russian Emperor took a one-two lead for the coach in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) on Sunday. Sunday (February 20).
Emperor of Russia has just reached the next level, he has had a year to adapt, work hard and really learn what is expected in Hong Kong with solid lessons and again, I can’t know Thank you enough owners for their patience,” said Whyte.
Whyte won the Record Sprint Cup (then the Record Cup) with Best Of The Best (2000), while he won the Hong Kong Gold Cup twice on two of Hong Kong’s all-time greats. – Indi native (1999) and Ambitious Dragon (2012).
Tonight around the city, Whyte’s entries include Harmony Fire, Carroll Street and Astrologer, who compete in Sing Woo Handicap 3rd (1200m).
“He (the Astrologer) was in good form, he came back from the win and ran well, he came back from that race and he is still in good health.
“He is a pleasure to be with and to work with, he does everything you ask of him and his work in the morning makes you happy,” says Whyte.
A three-year-old – The Astrologer has raced five times in Hong Kong to two wins – including his surprise success four times starting 133/1 over 1000m away at Happy Valley.
“He (Together Rewards) looks like a solid horse to beat – he looks like a growing pony – I’m not saying mine isn’t, but he looks classier sure.
“I think the handicap as everyone knows would make it a better argument, but I still believe Rewards Together is the go-to horse – it will take a lot of work for my horse to get through. get him,” Whyte said.
The astrologer stepped out of gate three led by Alexis Badel before 11 others, including Rew Rewards Together, who scored a winning hat-trick, but Whyte believes the persistent rain – has calmed in this afternoon – which Hong Kong faces since Saturday (February 19) will benefit his charges tonight.
“I think a little concession would definitely benefit this horse as well,” Whyte said.
Tonight’s fixture sees the end of the DBS x Manulife Millionaire Challenge and victory for the Astrologer will see him vying for second or third place with 51 points.
This weekend, Whyte will be represented by Turin Redsun in the HK$12 million (1800m) Hong Kong Classic Cup, facing the likes of Romantic Warrior, California Spangle, Senor Toba, Rocket Spade and The Irishman – coach Francis Lui believes he will only go on to improve ahead of the HK$24 million HKD BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) next month as he prepares for the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) on Sunday (February 27).
“For now, I’m very happy with him (the Irishman), and I think he can continue to improve,” said Lui.
The Irishman has completed all three races in Hong Kong – most recently finishing third in the HK$12 million (1600m) Hong Kong Classic – stage one of the Four-Year Classics on last month.
“He’s got enough experience, he just needs to settle down a bit when running – he just wants to go a little bit,” Lui said. “I think he just needs to settle down and even in the gate he’s always a bit tense, so he just needs to relax a little bit more.”
Prior to his departure, the four-year-old Tavistock had placed in Groups 2 and 3 in Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) and Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) in Australia.
Wednesday’s (February 23) nine-race schedule at Happy Valley begins at 6:45 p.m. with a Yuk Handicap After Place 4 (2200m).
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