Whyte gives his backers an exciting ride
It was supposed to be the afternoon that incumbent champion jockey Douglas Whyte reeled title front-runner Brett Prebble right in and he went some way to doing that with a treble, but only after Jockey Challenge punters had a few anxious moments.
Whyte was at $1.25 to win the Challenge even as the wagering opened and the odds only got shorter after he won with London China Town for Manfred Man Ka-leung in the opening race and Entrapment in the third, but Zac Purton gave him a fright before the Durban Demon brought home the last favourite, the appropriately named You Gotta Pay, to seal the deal.
The three-timer may have fallen short of what many had expected for Whyte's day - with well-bet favourites Glory Of India, Leading City and Shining Victory biting the dust in successive events - but it was enough to trim Prebble's lead back to three.
Whyte combined with John Size, now breaking clear in the trainers' race with an eight-win lead, to score on Entrapment and You Gotta Pay and either horse gave the impression the winning run is not over yet.
'I think I said after his last win that when Entrapment finally drew a good barrier and didn't have to do the donkey work - as he has done his last two at least - we'd see the penny drop.' Whyte said.
'That was what we saw today. Jeff Lloyd was able to go and dictate the pace with Amedeo but, once I came off his heels to his outside, Entrapment was never going to get beaten.'
The three-year-old kept his unbeaten record intact after four starts and is hurtling up the ratings towards 100, but at least Size can run him wherever an opportunity appears.
'I was never worried about his first run on the dirt - he'll run on all surfaces and he's by an American-bred sire - and I thought we'd try it basically because there didn't seem much else around for him right now,' said Size.
'But I was pleased that he seemed to have no problem with the winning post today. He has shied at it on the turf track, but was well behaved this time.
'It was a different experience from an inside draw for the first time, but he's always been OK when you ask him to follow other horses in track work.'
You Gotta Pay was also having a new experience over 1,600m, after doing his previous winning over 1,200m and 1,400m but, if anything, the gelding was better suited.
'In the shorter races, I've had to come out early and try to get going so he wasn't left flat-footed and he has been vulnerable because of it,' said Whyte. 'Today, I was able to ride him a nice race and, when we turned in, he actually kicked.'
Size said there may be a look at further distances for You Gotta Pay as he matures but not just yet.
'He's got a bowling kind of action, so the step up in distance I thought would suit,' Size said. 'I'm not sure he's physically strong enough to cope with further than the mile at this stage but, with that kind of action, I'm sure that there will come a day where we'll try further.'
Whyte's win on London China Town gave the gelding two wins from as many starts and Whyte described him as 'an utter professional', but said the concern was taking on older, more experienced horses as he would now graduate to Class Three.
'He's a lovely horse and well up to Class Three but I've also been here long enough to know that's where the good young horses can get crucified,' Whyte said. 'He'd probably appreciate a little break and maybe they'll look at the Juvenile Sprint Trophy rather than rushing into the open-age races - I'd hate him to have a tough one somewhere and start to get sour.'