O'Sullivan feels benefit of Whyte's advice as partnership blossoms
Champion jockey Douglas Whyte made a one-act affair of the Jockey Challenge at Happy Valley last night as he grabbed a winning treble, the feature race and continued to grow a burgeoning partnership with trainer Paul O'Sullivan.
Whyte took points with all seven of his mounts, racking up a massive Jockey Challenge total of 56 points, and wins on O'Sullivan-trained Dordenma and New Chapter were topped with the Wayfoong Centenary Bowl on Hongkong Superstar for Alex Wong Yu-on.
The pair of O'Sullivan winners has carried on what has been a relatively new combination on a regular basis by Whyte and O'Sullivan - and it hasn't been any accident.
'In terms of jockeys here, you could throw the colours in the room and you wouldn't mind who put them on, there are a lot of very good riders here,' said O'Sullivan.
'But at the end of every year, Douglas has won more races than everyone, so I thought I could use any help he could give me because he's obviously doing something right. He does his homework before the races, he doesn't sugar coat his advice after the horses work or race and I usually walk away from a conversation with him with something I can work with. And I'd happily be second pick to Johnny Size.'
Whyte said his few rides for O'Sullivan last season had turned out well so when the New Zealander came to him at the start of this season and said he'd like to use him more often this term, he was very comfortable with that.
'There's no agreement as such, just something we've built on and what I enjoy about working with Paul is that he asks for advice, he wants to have it and he listens,' Whyte said and pointed out that bringing New Chapter to Happy Valley was the product of working with the trainer. 'The horse needed something to bring him on mentally, he was jumping shadows at Sha Tin and I suggested that the best thing he could do was bring him to the Valley. He's a big horse and you might not think he's a Valley horse, but mentally a change was what he needed.'
Whyte has been a regular rider of Dordenma for several seasons so there was no reason to change that when O'Sullivan took the gelding over this term.
'He's a lovely horse around the stables,' said O'Sullivan after Dordenma made up for an unlucky first up defeat with a narrow win in the Queen's Road Central Handicap. 'Where he'll find himself now after winning tonight? I guess he has to step up but he did carry some weight and did a good job, so perhaps he can.'
Whyte's advice was also a factor in Hongkong Superstar registering his first win here after the rider had recommended a drop in distance.
'His last start he'd had a lovely run over 1,200m but couldn't finish it off and I said to Alex that his breathing problems were coming against him and the best option might be to drop him back to the 1,000m,' Whyte said. 'Everything broke his way in the race tonight. Alex and the owner have been great supporters of mine and I'd love to say the horse can go on from here but really that was his race. He does need it all to go right for him.'
Local rider Way Leung Ming-wai finally bounced off the mark for the season when he scored a surprise win aboard Tony Millard-trained K-Jack in the second race. Resuming from the break, K-Jack showed blistering pace under a positive ride from Leung to cross over and lead the field, a surprise to many including his trainer.
'I didn't think he'd have the sort of speed to get across like that and put himself into a position to be able to win so I wasn't expecting him,' said Millard. 'He does have a little bit of ability but we've had awful trouble with his feet. Just a nightmare. But Way gave him a good ride tonight and the key was giving him a bit of a breather on the circle after he'd worked early.'
Terry Wong Chi-wai was the only victim in the stewards room, finding himself with a two-day ban for crossing too sharply on Perfect Athelete in the opening event.