Whyte's absence leaves others to steal the glory
Runaway jockeys' championship winner Douglas Whyte was absent from the season finale but still made his presence felt, three of his planned rides winning, the first providing 'clean skin' Tim Clark with the first leg of a double.
Whyte rode 107 winners for the term, the fifth time he has cracked triple figures, but it could have been 111, had he been aboard prospective mounts that were successful while he sat out the final two meetings with an injured shoulder. Two of his would-be winners yesterday were horses to watch for next season - Peri Peri Saffron and It Has To Be You - but Clark was the first beneficiary on Michael Chang Chun-wai's Class Five galloper Precision Magic.
'It was a lucky pick-up with Douglas being out, and it was my second ride for Michael after I picked up a ride for him on Wednesday night and lovely to get a win for him,' Clark said. 'As far out as the half-mile, he felt like he wouldn't get beat. He travelled way too good for a Class Five horse.'
Clark, who had 28 winners, maintained a perfect record of being the only rider to compete at all 83 meetings - in his rookie season - and not be suspended.
'I have never been one to fall foul of the stewards,' he said. 'I feel I am as competitive as anyone out there, so it is not as if I am not just being careful ... sometimes you push the boundaries a bit, but so far I haven't been in trouble, touch wood.
'At one stage in Australia I got up to 1,400 rides without a suspension, I have been riding nearly eight years and you could count my suspensions on one hand.'
It Has To Be You is a 2013 Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby eligible Private Purchase, whose trainer John Size described as being sound with a nice temperament. '1,400m looked a bit short for him, but he certainly lengthened nicely, stuck his neck out and looks like horse wants more ground,' Size said. 'To win in Class Three with 133 pounds at his second start here, he has done a good job and he looks like he will win more races.'
Jockey Willie Pike said the winning margin of a neck was typical of the horse's style. 'He is not a devastating horse that is going to sit behind them and go 'bang' and put five on them, I think he'll only ever win by a neck, but they'll have a hard time getting past him,' Pike said.
'He is competitive and there is a little bit of ability there as well. He was there to be beaten at the end, but he is tough and game and didn't want to throw it in. I was in the right spot but with the big weight and after covering a little bit of ground, I was vulnerable if something had the legs to get me, but he just fought really well.' Pike will ride on Wednesday at Belmont and the following three meetings to close the Australian season in a bid to protect his lead in the Perth jockeys' premiership.
'I wouldn't be going straight home otherwise,' he said. 'Peter Knuckey needs seven wins from the four meetings to catch me ... hopefully I can get a win and clinch it.'
Peter Knuckey needs seven wins from the four meetings to catch me ... hopefully I can clinch it Willie Pike (pictured) on the Perth title
Number of suspensions Tim Clark has incurred this season, riding 28 winners in the 83 meetings in his rookie year