Doleuze gives Whyte a taste of his own medicine
Olivier Doleuze managed to do a 'Dougy' on Douglas Whyte and claim the Jockey Challenge in the final stride last night, leading the point-score from the start after taking the opener on Winning Pal for trainer Michael Chang Chun-wai.
With a small fist-pump after the last, Doleuze snatched a vital four points in the final event to nullify Whyte's six on second-placed Vitality Express and trump the $1.65 Challenge favourite with 32 points.
It was almost a huge night for Doleuze, with narrow seconds on Diamond Rainbow and Impeccable costing the French ace a treble, but his four placings combined with his winner was enough for him to nose out Whyte in the final points tally.
'I was very happy to win the Challenge, you know Douglas always wins it, so it is good when you can steal a little bit from him,' Doleuze said.
'I've always liked Winning Pal, but when he goes inside horses, he doesn't have much luck, so I talked with Michael to take him back and come wide. I knew with an uninterrupted run that he could win, though I didn't think he would win like that.'
Winning Pal recorded the biggest winning margin of the night with his 3 1/4 length romp over Healthy Manner and Master Dragon in the Class Five opener. Whyte, who rode a double on Young Turbo and Ho Ho Life, was unlucky not to seal the challenge in the last, a breath away from doing so on Vitality Express who was nosed out by Gerald Mosse and Fearless.
Young Turbo gave Racing Club members a reason to cheer, shedding his bridesmaid tag for trainer John Size with a narrow win in the Ngau Tau Kok Handicap (1,200m).
'To win first time out at Happy Valley is always a good effort, and although he did have the rail to follow from the good draw, he didn't have a perfect passage throughout and did well to win,' Size said.
'That mightn't be his last run here either, the winning post came up before he knew it and he wasn't able to throw his win away this time. In time I think he should develop into a nice horse, and now he's got that win under his belt he might go on with it.'
Whyte's second winner came by another short-head margin, as the champion hoop out-gunned apprentice Vincent Ho Chak-yiu and Classic Boy on the Dennis Yip Chor-hung-trained Ho Ho Life.
'He's a transformed horse this season, even in his trackwork you can really feel that he is loving what he is doing,' Whyte said. 'He won with a bit of purpose tonight under the big weight, and even though the margin was small, when the second horse came at him he really stuck his neck out to find the line. I think he's ready for 1,800 metres, and with no weight he should be able to continue to climb the ratings.'
The double extended Whyte's stranglehold on the jockey premiership, and the Durban Demon now sits 15 clear of second-placed Darren Beadman - who booted home Elite Sixty-Six for John Moore last night - with 41 wins for the season.
Elite Sixty-Six dropped on the early leader Impeccable to nail him by a head and claim victory in the feature, the Victoria Racing Club Trophy (1,200m). 'He's been battling a bit lately. It was a low pressure race early which allowed him to get a good spot,' Beadman said.
'He goes to class two now, but he'll get a weight drop, which is probably important for him. He's had the big weights lately but he's only a little fellow and I wouldn't be surprised to see him hold his own in the next grade.'