Dominant Whyte on target to reach magical century mark
Runaway leader enjoys another bumper night with four victories to add to his tally
Champion jockey Douglas Whyte left all sense of reality trailing in his wake and set his sights firmly on a ton of winners for the season as he slammed home another four-timer at Happy Valley last night.
Whyte has completely dominated the season's opening weeks, racing to 28 wins by the finish of last night's meeting and the prospect of a history-making 100-win season for the Durban Demon is looming ever more likely.
Although there are 64 more race meetings until the final scores are settled and the end is still well out of sight, in raw statistical terms, Whyte will need little more than a winner a meeting for the remaining days to become the first to ring up a Hong Kong century.
In his current form, no-one would dare say he won't do it, and the South African was without blemish again last night.
Although Powerful was beaten at short odds in the first behind Andy Leung Ting-wah-trained Winning Ways (Craig Williams), it was through no fault of Whyte and his followers had him fairly and squarely to thank when he linked with Dennis Yip Chor-hong for a double in the fourth and fifth races on Winning Sunshine and Cosmo Success, respectively.
Then Whyte teamed with leading trainer John Moore for the last two winners on the card, Xlerate and Winning Counter, to seal the four-timer and stretch his break to 14 winners at the top of the table.
Xlerate was probably the most promising winner of the night, but Moore said the stayer's potential may never be fully-realised in Hong Kong. 'He's a real stayer and we probably won't ever see this horse running at his optimum distance here with so few real distance races,' he said. 'But we'll see how far he can progress here and I think right now a race like the Queen Mother's Memorial Cup [2,400 metres] at handicaps, looks a perfect race for him late in the season.'
The rangy son of Zabeel beat another gelding by the New Zealand-based stallion, Mighty Hugo, to take the Wayfoong Centenary Bowl (1,800 metres) and Moore is predicting an increased interest in the stock.
'It's funny. For all his success in Australia and New Zealand, Zabeel is only now just starting to become popular in Hong Kong,' Moore said. 'I don't know what it was, but a lot of people felt they weren't the right breed for racing here and they haven't had the interest they deserved.
'But I bought this guy because I wanted something coming up through the staying ranks and he fits the bill. Being by Zabeel, he's needed time and is only just coming.'
Moore said that he had not really wanted to start the gelding around the tight Happy Valley circuit but was left with little option. 'There is a race on November 12 for him at Sha Tin over 2000 metres but he needed to get another race into him if he was going to be right for that,' the trainer said. 'This isn't his track - he needs the big track at Sha Tin - but with the programme the way it was, he had to run here.'
Rookie trainer David Ferraris has also begun the season in great style and kept his tally ticking over at a 20 per cent strike rate when Snippedydooda won the Class Two sprint.
'He deserved that,' Ferraris said. 'Both his runs for me have been great at Sha Tin. He did it a bit tough there tonight sitting wide but he really dug in down the straight and he really earned it.'
Stewards suspended apprentice Paul Lo Pak-hin and also freelance jockey Vincent Sit out of the first race last night, each for three days. Lo will ride on Saturday before starting his ban but Sit was granted a request to commence his suspension immediately.