Champion jockey Douglas Whyte faces the serious charge of failing to ride out his mount to the finish after a narrow defeat on Scales Of Justice in the Group One Kingston Town Classic in Perth on Saturday.
Just a fortnight after going to Australia and winning the Group One Railway Stakes with the same horse, this trip has turned sour for the 13-time Hong Kong premiership winner and could see him copping a hefty penalty if found guilty.
Punters were up in arms after it appeared as though Whyte dropped his hands just before the finishing line in the A$1 million feature, sparking plenty of debate about if the action cost the horse the race.
Scales Of Justice had a tough run but kept fighting down the straight as the Darren Weir-trained Stratum Star loomed, getting up by a nose in the shadows of the post.
Damian Lane wins a G1 in his home state! Stratum Star pips Railway Stakes winner Scales of Justice to win the Kingston Town Classic! pic.twitter.com/djq0KjxuSv— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) December 3, 2016
Whyte pleaded not guilty to the charge and the inquiry has been adjourned until a date and time to be fixed to allow both the trainer Lindsey Smith and managing owner to be present at the request of the rider.
Whyte said he resorted to hands and heels riding to coax the horse home as it was tiring, while Smith told stewards via phone he was happy with the ride and it wouldn’t have mattered if he hit him two or three more times.
Do you think Douglas Whyte misjudging the finishing line cost Scales Of Justice victory in the Kingston Town Classic? @Racing— Shane Anderson (@Globalgallop) December 3, 2016
The controversy took some of the gloss of Stratum Star’s win, which doubled as the first hometown Group One victory for Damian Lane, who is currently on a short term contract with the Jockey Club.
Lane is riding in terrific form, having collected a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday night before flying to Perth and getting the third Group One win of his career.
“I thought I had him cold but Scales Of Justice kept kicking strong and made us work for it,” Lane said.
“It’s a very satisfying win.”
Both Whyte and Lane are riding at Sha Tin on Sunday.