City slicker Whyte rules Valley
Champion jockey turns in another brilliant display to land a four-timer
Champion jockey Douglas Whyte turned on a Happy Valley masterclass last night to finish his record-breaking season at the city track with a four-timer, while just one was enough to make John Size agree that the trainers' championship was finally over.
Whyte landed victories aboard Happy Crusader, Grand Supreme, Don Ricardo then rounded them out with Yellow Diamond in the night's feature, the Happy Valley Vase, but Don Ricardo for Size was the final part of the trainer's puzzle.
With that win, Size's oft-heard suggestion that it was still mathematically possible for him to be beaten evaporated into thin air and he finally accepted a fourth championship.
The jockeys' championship by contrast has been over for months but that didn't stop Whyte turning in some brilliant performances despite the lateness of the hour nor Dwayne Dunn giving him a run for his money for ride of the night.
Dunn's winner came aboard the Caspar Fownes-trained Excellent Boy in the fourth, as he showed great presence of mind from gate nine to drive across behind other runners and find the rail early.
'It was an 11 out of 10 ride from Dwayne, win lose or draw, but this horse is pretty good to have the record he has despite the problems he's had,' said Fownes. 'Dr Chris Osborne took a six-inch piece of bone out of his leg not so long ago and the horse has bounced back like nothing happened.'
Fownes also celebrated a double, winning with 2007 Derby contender Sikander in the Broom Handicap (2,200m).
'It's his owner, Ricky Samtani's birthday tomorrow so I've given him the best present I think I possibly could,' laughed Fownes. 'Sikander looks a real Derby horse already, a real stayer. I've always had big opinion of him and he's had a few things which didn't go quite right for him in his last couple of races and I was going to put him out, but I saw this race, thought the trip would suit him and that was the real Sikander tonight.'
But the night was dominated by Whyte with his 'impossible' win on the Alex Wong Yu-on-trained Yellow Diamond providing an unexpected highlight after the gelding looked beaten in the straight.
'That was really impressive,' Whyte agreed. 'I'd made the decision not to try to get to the fence because Yellow Diamond can be a bit timid even at trackwork, so I didn't want him between horses and getting off balance. I said to Alex, 'He's good enough to win sitting a little wide as long he is balanced', and because he was able to enjoy his race instead of being cluttered up, he gave me everything in the straight when Blue Genes had him.'
It continued Wong's fine season training International Sale horses, and the trainer was at pains to point out that it doesn't happen by accident.
'My friends are experts, they come with me and we look and we buy the good ones, that's why I have success with the sale horses,' he said. 'I don't buy for the sake of buying. This has been a difficult horse to train - he has had knee problems, tendon problems - but he proves himself again. He doesn't really enjoy Happy Valley, he's a Sha Tin horse but there were no other races on for him.'
Former champion trainer Ivan Allan will have the chance to race a horse as an owner in Hong Kong after drawing a permit in the results of the ballot, announced by the Jockey Club yesterday.