Whyte shows what can be achieved with hard work

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 June, 2003, 12:00am

Douglas Whyte's Saturday night celebration of his 500th Hong Kong winner should fire the imagination of our promising young band of locally-grown jockey talent about what is possible in the years ahead.

The first thing for them to understand is that Whyte is not a demi-god and they must not be overawed by what he's achieved. He may carry a fearsome nickname, Demon Doug, but he's flesh and blood, just like each of the 10-pound claiming boys, and it's not really that long ago that he was exactly where they are now.

The bare statistics of his still-blossoming career are pretty amazing and it's entirely understandable if they intimidate the juniors. Whyte's eight seasons in Hong Kong have so far revealed 501 winners, and Saturday night's treble was his 34th locally.

He has four more meetings to beat his own Hong Kong personal best of 89 for the season and trails only Basil Marcus, another famous South African who rode 671 winners, as the most successful foreign jockey of all time.

The important lesson for the local boys, headed by Way Leung Ming-wai, Paul Lo Pak-hin, Thomas Yeung Kai-tong and Jacky Tong Chi-kit - is that Whyte has earned his way to the top through sheer hard work.

He's the first jockey at trackwork and one of the last to leave, he rides more horses per morning than anyone, he builds steady relationships with owners and trainers and he studies the form and videos diligently in a bid to better understand his mounts. And he strives for consistency.

God-given talent is nice, but the unemployment queues are full of people with God-given talent. Whyte personifies the bottom line of something far more noble: the harder he works, the luckier he gets.