Cruz and Whyte stay on course for season targets
Tony Cruz and Douglas Whyte, soon to be hailed as Hong Kong's champion trainer and jockey for this season, are both on schedule to hit their season goals after chalking up a double and a treble respectively.
Cruz, who was in Tokyo yesterday for his two-star assault on the Yasuda Kinen, won the opening event with tough griffin Expeditious and later in the programme combined with Brett Prebble to take the Class Three over 1,400 metres with Lucky Danske ($68).
The double, coming on top of another two winners at Sha Tin last Wednesday night, took Cruz to 86 winners for the season and to the threshold of equalling the one 'unbreakable' record in Hong Kong racing - George Moore's 1980 training mark of 87 winners.
The reason it was considered such a safe record, apart from the fact no one has gone near it for 25 years, is that Moore set the benchmark in the era prior to the Jockey Club setting a 60-horse limit on Hong Kong stables, the rule change taking place 15 years ago.
Whyte, meanwhile, was at his efficient, mistake-free best as he landed Syllabus ($15) for Alex Wong Siu-tan in the third, American Victory ($21.50) for David Oughton in the fourth and Gold Medal Winner ($46.50) for Manfred Man Ka-leung in the seventh.
The three-timer took the Durban Demon to 96 winners for the season, leaving him just four more from six meetings to rack up his second successive century of winners.
Last season, Whyte became the first Hong Kong jockey to hit triple figures. The previous record of 98 was set by his South African compatriot, seven-times champion Basil Marcus.
This premiership will also be fresh ground for Whyte, as he will become the first jockey in Hong Kong racing history to rack up five straight premierships. Derek Cheng (1971-74), Gary Moore (1975-78) and Basil Marcus (1996-99) all won four on end but each was foiled when they tried to extend that sequence to five.
Whyte thought the effort of Syllabus was a positive one and he believes the Sillery gelding will return a much better horse next term.
'He has a better turn of foot than many stayers and I don't think he'll have any trouble measuring up next season in Class Three,' he said.
'In fact, with his ability to quicken, it wouldn't surprise me if he can actually win at shorter distances. So far, his minimum trip has been 2,000 metres and he really revelled in the 2,400 metres today, but I think he may even be able to win at 1,800 metres next term.'
Whyte was full of praise for the courage of Gold Medal Winner, who looked certain to finish second in the Class Four over 1,200 metres but fought back to win under topweight of 133 pounds.
'That was a really good effort,' Whyte continued. 'After his last run at the Valley, I suggested to Manfred that he could either step up to 1,400 metres, or put blinkers on him for another crack at 1,200 metres.
'He was a much sharper horse with the blinkers on today. He surprised me with the level of gate speed he showed, and I was able to maintain my position inside Glory Years without any trouble at all. But I was concerned when Brett's horse [Taiji Spirit] got past me - he must have been a half length in front. But my bloke never gave up and just kept fighting, it was a game effort and showed he'll be up to winning in Class Three as well.'