South African newcomer Douglas Whyte has had an encouraging start to his new Hong Kong career with two winners in two racedays and the happy trend could continue at Sha Tin tonight.
Whyte booted home smooth winner Fireball and got trainer Alex Wong Yu-on off the mark with Paradise at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
Golden Duke is his big chance to keep the winner-a-meeting sequence going in tonight's opening event where the promising youngster of last season may just have the edge in a conditions race restricted to non-winners.
Whyte certainly has no complaints about the way things have gone to date and said: 'With just a bit more luck I would have had a double on the first day. Chop-Chop ran a great race and he could easily have got up.
'I have found it quite easy to settle into Hong Kong and the way of racing here. I have been fortunate enough to be on some nice horses and I am just hoping that I can keep getting the winners.' Golden Duke is in the care of one of local racing's major success stories - now second-season trainer, Ricky P. F. Yiu.
Yiu started his career with less than a dozen horses but has quickly proved that the Jockey Club was absolutely right to grant him a licence. And Yiu, with two winners on the board already, gives every indication that - with virtually a full stable - he will simply continue to deliver the winners as he did in his debut year.
Golden Duke started at shortish odds at his three starts last season and finished third in them all. But he was running up against some useful juvenile company - and over trips that were not completely in his favour.
Even allowing for his tender years, a sharp 1,000-metre sprint might be considered a trifle on the short side for a son of Last Tycoon and, with the summer behind him and a heap of work done on him, the 1,400 metres of tonight's opener looks ideal.
At his final start of the season, Golden Duke came from off the pace to finish a two-length third to the smart Mission Sealed over the longer Happy Valley sprint in yielding ground.
Earlier, he had run into sprinting filly Jacqwin down the straight 1,000 metres and, on his debut, played third fiddle to Bear Supreme and Intuition - again down the straight course.
The form is more satisfying than sensational but is good enough to give the three-year-old rock solid claims here. Yiu has ensured that Golden Duke is fit for the task ahead with several weeks of good work.
Golden Duke would be arguably the best track worker in the race and, if he translates that into raceday action, punters are on the right course to collect. There may have been a hint or two in his runs last season that he might have looked that bit better in the morning than he actually did in the afternoon but it is worth remembering that he was still learning the game.
Golden Duke has come through the midsummer break well and is a stronger horse now. Whyte should be able to get him in to a useful position from his inside barrier draw (three) and it will undoubtedly be a disappointment to the stable if he is not in the thick of things at the finish.
The Patrick Biancone-trained Well Done looks the logical danger on what was seen of him last season. He has been working satisfactorily and looks sure to give a sight under Eric Legrix.
Seasons Wind hinted at something in his penultimate start last season and will surely benefit from this run. It should also reveal if he has come on from the last campaign.
As one would expect from the conditions of the race, there is not an abundance of form about and it must surely pay to stick with the younger brigade who have shown something in their juvenile campaign. Golden Duke fits the bill.
Ricky P. F. Yiu