Staying power is key to Whyte bid for Derby double

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 March, 2011, 12:00am

Douglas Whyte, last year's Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby-winning jockey, has elected to stick with dour stayer Treasure Lands for trainer Tony Millard in this year's four-year-old classic, despite test-driving star sprinter and fellow Derby hopeful Little Bridge in a recent barrier trial.

Whyte's success aboard the Caspar Fownes-trained Super Satin last year filled the only remaining void in the 10-time champion's big-race record here, although this year the South African (pictured) admits he is hopeful rather than confident of another Derby victory with Treasure Lands.

'Treasure Lands is as dour as they come, and he is one of the few horses in the field that you know will run out the full 2,000-metre trip,' Whyte said.

'I think he has the potential to improve a lot from his run in the Classic Cup, and when you look at his English form it appears he will appreciate the extra ground.

'I rode Little Bridge in his barrier trial as a favour, to give Danny [trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing] my opinion on whether or not the horse would stay. He is an absolute racehorse, and if they go slow and then sprint in the Derby, he's right in with a chance. But if the field runs along early, I think the 10 furlongs will stretch his endurance.''

With Little Bridge's former partner Zac Purton booked to ride Jacobee for trainer John Moore, Howard Cheng Yue-tin will pick up the ride on Shum's six-time sprint winner. Whyte finally broke his hoodoo in the race aboard Super Satin last year, a horse he had won on four times in the lead-up and was a key part of his 2010 jockeys' premiership defence.

Unlike the long-standing relationship Whyte had with Super Satin, the leading jockey has ridden Treasure Lands on just one occasion - partnering him for his 4?length seventh to Ambitious Dragon in the Group One Classic Cup (1,800m).

'I had a lot more to do with Super Satin in the lead-up to last year's race. I'd had a number of wins on him and had a good feel for what he was and wasn't capable of,' Whyte said.

'It's hard to be over-confident about Treasure Lands on what we have seen so far, but I definitely think he is a dark horse in the race and it's a huge positive knowing he'll run the trip strongly.'

Treasure Lands was purchased by owner Charles Chan Sing-chuk after a mile win at Newbury as two-year-old and an upset win over the Derby distance of 2,000 metres in the Listed Newmarket Stakes at three for former trainer Andrew Balding.

Should Whyte win the Derby on Sunday, he will become the first rider to go back-to-back in the classic since Tony Cruz's double on Tea For Two II in 1987 and Clear City in 1988.