Whyte ends Valley drought with refreshing treble
Douglas Whyte had waited 27 rides between drinks at Happy Valley and had not won a race in town since January 12, but once the champion jockey got a taste of victory aboard Ho Ho Life last night the floodgates opened with a thirst-quenching treble over the final events which saw him storm home to win the Jockey Challenge.
Whyte's last win at the city track came aboard Ho Ho Life at his prior start, and a frustrating run of outs and near misses over the past four meetings was cast aside as the Dennis Yip Chor-hong-trained galloper returned to get Whyte back in the winning groove.
Dominant riding performances on Vitality Express and Upgrading landed the Durban Demon the treble in consecutive races which delivered Whyte's faithful the $262 dividend.
The finish to the evening was in stark contrast to the beginning, after Whyte's opening mount Elusive Prince reared as the gates opened and missed the start hopelessly. That sent Jockey Challenge odds into a spin and Whyte drifted out to as much as $11 after race five after opening $3.25 favourite, before the 10-time premiership winner amassed 36 points over the final three events to edge out early leader Alex Lai Hoi-wing, who rode a double.
'Ho Ho Life's been pretty good to me, he's won three on end now even though he's still quite inexperienced,' Whyte said.
'They went a bit quick early and that didn't suit him, but once he got into his place he travelled well and with the light weight I was always keen to get him to the front and make him hard to run down.'
Whyte parlayed his success on the Yip-trained galloper into a second victory on John Size's Vitality Express in the feature - the Hong Kong Football Club 125th Anniversary Cup (1,800m)
'Vitality Express is very honest, but he's probably also a better racehorse now than he was, he's developed a bit of a turn of foot after being very dour early on,' Whyte said.
'He was travelling strongly throughout tonight, I thought about coming to the outside and getting him rolling, but with his new turn of foot I was able to stay inside and wait until we had cut the corner.'
Despite copping a two-meeting careless riding suspension aboard Straight Forward in the feature, French jockey Gerald Mosse leaves for the Meydan Masters in Dubai carrying great form after a winning double on Multiproud for trainer Tony Cruz and Glenealy Star for Yip in consecutive races last night.
Mosse and fellow French jockey Maxime Guyon have been invited to compete in the event by the Emirates Racing Authority, which will conduct the International Jockeys competition over two all-weather races tonight and two turf races tomorrow night.
Last year's winner, Richard Hills, and Hong Kong International Jockey Championship winner Ryan Moore, will join 12 of the world's best jockeys including Frankie Dettori, Olivier Peslier, Calvin Borel, William Buick and Johnny Murtagh in competing for the title.
Mosse has done well in the ballot and will ride two Godolphin runners, Bay Willow and Kettle River; the Mick Channon-trained Halicarnassus and Brief Encounter.
The Ricky Yiu Poon-fai juggernaut continued at Happy Valley last night as the popular trainer led in his 11th winner from his past 55 starters courtesy of a shared double with jockey Lai on Solar Wonder and Compact Yarn.
Yiu has built an incredible winning strike rate of 20 per cent over this period and now sits fifth on the trainers premiership with 26 victories - currently just four wins shy of last year's champion John Size.
Lai, like Mosse, also bagged a double and a suspension, and will miss the meetings set down for February 27 and March 2, while Mosse will start his suspension after the Dubai fixture on Friday night and return on March 3.