Whyte realises his ultimate goal
Douglas Whyte set himself the ultimate goal at the start of this season - breaking his own Hong Kong record of 106 winners - and then kept the lofty target a secret between himself and wife Nicki until yesterday.
But after racking up win number 107 on Classic Horse with another 10-out-of-10 display, the Durban Demon was able to head home and share a champagne toast to celebrate a mission accomplished.
Classic Horse, trained by Andy Leung Ting-wah, had gone winless for 18 starts until Whyte stepped aboard. And the gelding's habit of being slowly away and getting back to the tail of the field has been a key ingredient to his continuing bad luck.
'I actually phoned Andy and asked for the ride,' Whyte revealed. 'He's been unlucky a number of times but anyone can see he has ability. I was just hoping that if we got a nice run through, he might be able to get home a bit better and it looked as though the mile would suit him.'
As it happened yesterday, the track was playing with a serious pro-rails bias that Whyte exploited to the maximum.
After Classic Horse did his thing and walked out of the stalls, Whyte made a beeline for the fence and followed it with absolute resolve. Then in the final 200 metres, all he had to do was negotiate his way around one horse - leader X-Speed - and victory was his. The surprising aspect of the race was the way Classic Horse put them to the sword in the final stages, posting a margin of 23/4 lengths.
'That was the pleasing part,' Whyte said. 'He won the race like a horse that is a bit better than Class Four.'
Whyte and Leung don't combine too many times in a season - Classic Horse was only his fifth ride for the trainer this term - but Leung has now been a part of two Whyte milestones.
He also supplied the winning horse when Whyte became the first jockey to ride 100 winners in a season on Lucky Encounter at Happy Valley on June 9, 2004.
Now that the 107 milestone is safely put away, Whyte declined the opportunity to reset the goal.
'I came back from the break last August and, because I didn't ride at all during the summer, I was just so keen and fresh - I felt so good in myself that I knew I'd have a good season,' Whyte explained.
'So breaking my own record became the goal. But now I've done that, and there are only three meetings to go, I'll just be trying my best to add as many winners I can and see what figure we end up with.'