Douglas Whyte left Japan last night for Italy with congratulations for compatriot Basil Marcus and a swipe at former retaining trainer, Tony Cruz. 'I mean it sincerely when I say that Basil is once again a most worthy champion. He is a great fighter and a first-class jockey - it's a great combination,' said Whyte. But the young South African was equally frank when it came to summing up his own challenge for the title in the season just ended and the on-off saga with trainer Cruz in the closing weeks of the campaign. 'I will say that I would have pushed Basil a lot harder for the title had I had the same sort of support from my own stable that Basil had from David [Hayes],' he said. 'It was a great team effort from Basil and David to win both titles and it takes a partnership like that to make it possible. 'Unfortunately, it was not like that with Tony, particularly in the later stages of the season.' Cruz at one stage put in a letter saying that the contract with Whyte was terminated but this was then withdrawn. 'I was even taken off horses on which I had won before and had a chance. It certainly wasn't a help,' he said. As Whyte departs for Italy and the Greek islands on holiday before returning to South Africa, his thoughts are already turning to next season following the epic bid by Oriental Express in the Yasuda Kinen on Sunday. Certain to be named Hong Kong's Horse of the Year this evening, Oriental Express went down in dreadful conditions by two lengths to Japan's new wonder horse, Taiki Shuttle. But it showed afresh at a very high level what a lethal combination trainer Ivan Allan and Whyte make. 'From the number of winners I rode it was obviously a good season for me but that is not the entire story. 'It is better to have a real input into a stable. I did in South Africa and it is better for the trainer as well - and the owner. 'It is a pleasure talking to Ivan about his horses and he listens. I really think we will make a good team next season because we have worked well this time on many occasions,' said Whyte, whose frequent high-octane clashes with Marcus on the track were part of the lifeblood of local racing. With Marcus again champion and Allan dethroned by Australian ace Hayes, the stage is set for a renewal of the absorbing battles on both fronts in September. 'No predictions - but I'll be disappointed if I don't win,' said Whyte.