Prebble halts Whyte's treble chance with timely Fortune Red Pepper win
Jockey Brett Prebble's winning ride aboard Fortune Red Pepper in the final event of the Happy Valley meeting last night has helped stave off Douglas Whyte's premiership charge for another day.
Whyte has been chipping away at Prebble's long-time premiership lead and would have racked up a treble of winners had it not been for Prebble's brilliant display in the feature Wyndham Handicap aboard the Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained galloper.
However, Whyte's early winning double aboard the Peter Ho Leung-trained Packing Friend and the Derek Cruz-trained Fun Rider has narrowed Prebble's lead in the premiership to just six with more than three month's racing left in the season.
'My horse Always Something came up to beat Brett's horse in the last, but just couldn't go on with it in the finish,' Whyte said. 'But I'll just keep chipping away and eventually the tree will fall with a crash.'
Whyte's first win came in the Old Bailey Handicap (1,650m) aboard Packing Friend. 'The good speed in the race and the tighter circle of the Valley track got him to balance up better than he has done before and he let down well,' Whyte said.
'He can be a bit dour at Sha Tin because of the long straight, and he is still weak and a bit one paced, but he showed improvement here.'
The perennial champion hoop then claimed a race-to-race double with a win on Cruz's Fun Rider in the first section of the Old Bailey Handicap (1,650m). 'Fun Rider is a temperamental horse and I've found that if you use the whip on him he can get a bit stroppy and just turn it up and not try,' Whyte said.
'He really hit the line nicely tonight and I wouldn't be surprised if he could come out and perform well at the bottom of Class Three next time.'
Prebble picked the right time to chime in with his winner and claimed the feature race aboard Fortune Red Pepper after finding a gun position in running from barrier five - and prevent Whyte from narrowing the premiership margin to four wins.
'Even with a bit of speed on tonight he still pulled and as a result he had no ping at the finish like he did in his last win,' Prebble said.
'He felt a bit flat tonight, even though he won; he has done a terrific job in the past couple of weeks, but he has had some hard racing and just might be starting to feel it now.'
Man was very pleased to have landed another win with the horse and chalk up his 30th winner in his most successful season as a trainer.
'It was very lucky that Brett was able to get the box seat and you could see that the horse had already learnt something from its last race,' Man said.
'I'll go home and see how he pulls up and what rating the handicapper gives him, but if I can find another suitable race for him at Happy Valley I think he will continue to run well.'
In-form trainer Andy Leung Ting-wah also had a winning double with the aptly named Daily Double winning the first on the card as he did last Wednesday and Magic Turbo claiming the D'Aguilar Handicap (1,200m).Caspar Fownes and Olivier Doleuze combined to win the other trophy race - the Aquascutum Trophy Handicap (1,200m) - with Topping Light.
'We got a bit stuck for a few strides in the straight, but he always felt like he could win and once we got to the outside he let down well,' Doleuze said.
In the stewards' room, Way Leung Ming-wai caught a two-day careless riding ban for his efforts in the final 200m on Fortune Pug in race two. He will start his ban immediately; Jeff Lloyd, who also received two days for his ride on Happee Gift in race six, begins his ban after the Macau Hong Kong Trophy at Taipa on April 11.