Douglas Whyte had the last laugh winning the Port Shelter Handicap (1,400m) on lightly raced Noble De Love after being replaced by Joao Moreira on the hot favourite, Ambitious Heart.
Whyte was aboard Ambitious Heart when he was run down in the final 100m by a Moreira mount, Cool And Neat, last start and connections opted to switch to the Brazilian on Sunday.
But Whyte was able to pick up a horse he already knew well in the Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained Noble De Love and proved too strong, relegating Ambitious Heart to fourth placing in the process after sitting on his outside through the race.
“Actually, I did a lot of the work on this guy before he started and I rode him his first three starts,” Whyte said.
“His first run was excellent and I thought he might win one fairly quickly but his form dropped away after a couple of starts and he was just disappointing.
“But he’s a big, heavy animal, it has taken longer than expected for the penny to drop with him and it helped that he had drifted down the ratings as well.”
Camped three-wide with some cover, Noble De Love kept grinding away to hold off the strong finish of Doctors Delight (Nash Rawiller) in the final stages after looking like he might be picked off late.
“Even Nash said afterwards that he came up to me and my horse was just too dour, he just kept kicking,” Whyte explained.
“He doesn’t have a lot of dash, nothing happens all that quickly with him but I think the winning move today was getting him out and going and getting his momentum up before straightening for home.
“He just doesn’t quicken and, the way he races, you keep looking at him thinking he needs a mile or even 1,800m but at this stage he’s just not physically strong enough to handle it yet.”