Classy Whyte shows why he is the king of HK
Douglas Whyte sliced them, diced them, and wrapped his three winners in a box, with the perennial champion giving his fellow jockeys a masterclass in taking advantage of the box-seat position in the run.
Fresh Air, Ho Wongchoy and Joyful Joyful all enjoyed the run of the race in their respective events, before Whyte eased them off the leaders' heels in a copybook display of riding at the city circuit.
Punters cheered as the local hero drove the heavily backed Fresh Air to the lead in the Island Handicap for trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak, before they reloaded in the next event to send the Andreas Schutz-trained Ho Wongchoy out as an odds-on favourite.
'It was a plan that worked out well on all three of my winners today, they each had a lovely run and were able to capitalise on it,' Whyte said. 'Fresh Air did his job well, I thought his trial was phenomenal leading into the race and it was a sign that he had matured well over the break.
'He's a horse who doesn't need blinkers, they seem to stir him up and tend to make him lose concentration rather than make him focus,' he added.
Never one to let the public down, Whyte replicated his ride on Ho Wongchoy, lifting the former maiden to a long overdue first win at start 18.
'It's a pity Ho Wongchoy couldn't win at the end of last season to help cement my premiership win, but he has held his form over the break, he trialled great, and I think he's probably come back slightly better than last season,' Whyte said.
'He'll get further for sure, and I think he'll race a bit kinder and settle now he has that run under his belt. It was a slowly run race and he was pulling a little too hard in the early stages but, with that freshness out of his legs, he will relax better next time.
Almond Lee could only shake his head in delight as Whyte gave Joyful Joyful the same silver service, this time steering inside the leader Megabucks to save every available inch of ground along the rail.
'What can you say? Douglas gave him a beautiful ride, he just gets the box seat every time and he lifted the horse to victory,' Lee said.
Whyte was more than pleased to take the ride on Joyful Joyful yesterday, however, after advising Lee to try the five-year-old at Happy Valley last season.
'I rode him in a 1,000m race when he was rated 68 and he was just a ball of nerves,' Whyte said. 'The advantage of being on him that day was that I suggested to Almond that maybe he try him here at Happy Valley with the blinkers off and it has worked a treat.
'Admittedly we did have a great run, but he pinged the gates, put himself in the position to win and then went on with it right to the line. He can knock up another win in Class Four for sure, but he'll be vulnerable in Class Three unless he keeps improving.'