Magnificent treble brings up 50 wins in season for Whyte
The demon Douglas Whyte brought up his half-century of winners with a magnificent treble at yesterday's final meeting of the season.
The Sha Tin fixture saw the genius South African rider take the second on David Hill's Don Pedro and the featured Flyaway Cup on Ricky Yiu's top stayer in the making, Multi-Star, who floored David Hayes' Take Charge.
But Whyte then briefly threw Hayes a lifeline in the trainers' championship by hanging on to his Golden Mascot to win the sixth by a head from Lord Ron.
That success on Golden Mascot took Hayes back to within one winner of Ivan Allan but the Singaporean Lion roared once more to land the ninth with the rapidly improving Citadel and clinch his third trainers' title.
Whyte ended the campaign seven winners behind Basil Marcus and a clear second in the jockeys' standings, despite having ridden for only two thirds of the season.
Next time round he will be stable jockey to the emerging Tony Cruz and is already many observers' idea of the favourite to win next season's jockeys' title.
'I don't know about that,' smiled Whyte, 'but I will be giving it my best shot and hope things can go as well next time round as they did during my two spells here this season.
'I'm really looking forward to riding for Tony next season as he's so determined, and what people may not realise is how hard he works and how much effort he has put in to achieve the success he's had this season.
'But generally I've had plenty of support from many, many trainers, such as Wong Tang-ping, and there is no problem about taking outside rides next season.' Multi-Star, by Grosvenor out of a Zamazaan mare, is bred to stay all day, so has done really well to win four times for Yiu this season with yesterday's Cup event his first race beyond a mile.
Yesterday he came with a strong late run to catch Take Charge and win by a neck with the pair pulling 3.25 lengths clear of Gaylord.
''I've always had a high opinion of this horse and he went to the line as if he'll have no problem staying farther.
'But mind you, he's also got a decent turn of foot, as he showed to win today,' said Whyte.
Yiu himself completed a double with another improving youngster when Pink Diamond ran out a comfortable winner of the seventh in which the favourite, Toy Symphony, ran a luckless fourth after meeting all kinds of trouble in running.
Toy Symphony is the sort of horse who could win three times next season when he'll be that much stronger as he's still only a lightly raced three-year-old and is a lovely type.
Yiu's double took his tally to 25 in a second season which has confirmed the promise he showed in his rookie year as a trainer, and marked him down as a handler of considerable talent.
Similarly, Andy Leung, whose Basil Marcus-ridden Colourful World was his 23rd success of the campaign when taking the eighth event.
Don Pedro relished the rain-affected track when coming home late and hard to land the second, while Golden Mascot appears much better at Sha Tin these days.
The Hayes three-year-old has been hard to follow on his last couple of runs at Happy Valley, looking almost ungenuine at times.
But yesterday he enjoyed the rain-affected track and the roomier New Territories venue to repel Lord Ron by a head.
English riding star Alan Munro has had his best spell in the territory, and made it win number 14 for his three-month stint when the reclassified griffin Kimber ran out an emphatic winner of the third, run down the straight, 1,000-metre chute.
'I thought the best ground would be on the far rail, but when I was halfway up the straight and they'd all drifted out to the centre of the track I was thinking, 'I hope I'm bloody well right',' smiled Munro after racing.
Right he was, and Kimber prevailed by an impressive 2.75 lengths to put caretaker trainer Li Lap-sai into double figures since taking over from the suspended Stephen Leung.
It will now be interesting to see whether the veteran Li, a racing figure for more than 30 years, will be granted a full licence for next season.
Francis Lui, who took over from Tony P. H. Chan and sent out nine winners, has also put up a very strong case for a full licence. There's no more eloquent testimony than winners.