PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 January, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 January, 2000, 12:00am

Long-serving Australian mentor Bruce Hutchison was thankful for 'small mercies' after celebrating a memorable double at Sha Tin yesterday.

The snowy-haired Western Australian cheered Douglas Whyte home aboard Spartan (3.5-1 favourite) in the second and then watched with glee as Glen Boss came with a withering run to take the sixth astride his progressive Handover (9-1).

And with a modicum of luck in running, stable star Red Zone would have handed the laconic Sandgroper - as Western Australians are known - an unlikely treble in a rough-house Classes One and Two nightcap.

'Small mercies . . . I'll take them where I can get them,' Hutchison said after watching the replay of Red Zone's luckless eighth.

'He [Red Zone] never got a crack at them all the way down the straight, but that's the way it goes sometimes and I'm just happy to have got our noses in front elsewhere.

'There's so many good riders here and racing is so tight that you have to take what you can get.

'There'll be days when all the luck goes the other way.' But for now Hutchison is a very happy man and he is looking forward to next Saturday's Sha Tin meeting with great anticipation.

'I've got Spartan entered in an 1,800-metre race next weekend and I reckon he can go close again. He's finally come good for us and the extra 200 metres is right up his street,' he said.

'Glen [Boss] rode him too close last time and he really needs to switch off to give his best.

'He got that today and the rest is history.' Handover's win was less expected but no less enjoyable for Hutchison.

'He's [Handover] a nice young horse and we're just taking things one race at a time with him,' said the trainer.

'He got a good run through in the straight and the second horse [Dolbridge] was a bit unlucky, but Bossy did a great job.' Yesterday's heroics took Hutchison to six winners for the season and will give the licensing boys food for thought when they put their thinking caps on to sort out next year's trainers' lineup.

Elsewhere yesterday, there was a trademark double for English pilot Brett Doyle and his retaining trainer, Andy Leung Ting-wah.

The prolific duo provided Crown Shift (6.6-1) in the Class Five dirt test over 1,800 metres and completed a great day at the office when the well-supported Loyal Devotion (2.9-1 favourite) upstaged his Class Four rivals in the penultimate contest on the card.