Whyte cuts Valley swathe
The jockeys' championship may not be at the forefront of his thoughts these days but Douglas Whyte is likely to land a couple of good winners before the end of the season judging by yesterday's early morning trials action at Happy Valley.
The Jockey Club decision two seasons ago to have a limited number of trials at the city track each season has paid off handsomely and there was no shortage of owners and interested spectators in attendance yesterday.
And Whyte's mount Brilliant Attorney, trained by the white-haired mentor from Perth, Bruce Hutchison, gave an impressive display in the second trial of the morning to post the easiest of victories.
'I never like to get carried away by wins in trials because they don't have to try. But he stretched out well, which was important, and he was in this to be tested. I think he has come through it all right so that means I can get one really good race into him before the end of the season,' said Hutchison.
Whyte was clearly intent on giving Brilliant Attorney a worthwhile trial and wasted no time in kicking him along and into the lead. The trial was over 1,200 metres and the South African rider was happy enough to give them something to chase . . . which was all the rest of the field could do.
A good kick at the top of the Valley straight and Brilliant Attorney had gone beyond recall, leaving Born Dragon, Good Friends and Courage Star to scrap it out for the minor placings.
Two Ivan Allan-trained intended runners came out of the fifth and final heat leaving just four to go to post with all eyes on the David Oughton-trained Indian Road.
The former Patrick Biancone-trained star bled at his last start for his new trainer when ridden by Kieren Fallon and by the time Oughton gets a start into him this season he will have had an enforced lay-off of over four months.
Indian Road looked a prize acquisition for Oughton when switched to the English trainer after a highly impressive win on the first day of the present season. Biancone was suspended until the end of the campaign on the following day while Oughton set about preparing Indian Road for his first start under new management.
He targeted the Volunteers' Challenge Cup in February but there wasn't much more that could have gone wrong. The horse jumped badly, lost ground and was later reported to have bled. All in all, it was a forgettable outing. But the elegant Oughton will be looking for better things before the curtain falls late next month after this good display where Indian Road, under determined riding from the South African, proved too strong for the useful Lawrie Fownes-trained Crown Regent, with Wendyll Woods aboard.
There was a yawning gap back to the third-placed horse in this 1,000-metre trial. Said Oughton: 'There are going to be a couple of things in his favour. Through circumstances, and nothing more, he's had a good holiday while the rest of them have been working. He will have been almost idling away for four months, so a lot of horses he meets will be over the top or damn near it. Also off his mark in Class Three, if he can't win there I don't know where he will win.
'If he does win, and I have to say that on this sort of trial he is a very good chance, then Michael Tibbatts is in for a big thank you. Indian Road does not have the best of manners and they needed attending to. Mike has done that and it has had quite a bit to do with today's effort.' It was a productive morning for Whyte who ended up with a treble. He picked up the late ride on the Gary Ng Ting-keung galloper V-Can who produced a formidable display in taking the fourth heat also over the minimum sprint trip.
The partnership proved too strong for the Eric Legrix-ridden Expedient with Millennium Spirit running third in the six-horse trial.
Australian Club jockey Steven Baster has had a good run and may get a win out of Exultation, trained by Derek Cruz, who won the second trial in slow time. The unreliable High Degree finished second in the longer sprint.