There had to be a silver lining to a month’s suspension and 13-time champion jockey Douglas Whyte said that it will be when he sees in the new year with his loved ones.
Whyte commences his one-month ban on Sunday for failing to ride Scales Of Justice out to the satisfaction of the stewards in the Group One Kingston Town Stakes at Ascot and will be making good use of the break.
“We’re going to Phuket on Sunday, I’ve got all of my family here and we’ll stay there for a couple of weeks and it will be the first time I’ve seen the new year in for probably 16 or 17 years,” Whyte said after landing a quick-fire double to open the day on Soccer Brave and Healthy Luck.
Whyte was fortunate the stewards in Perth have an automatic nine-day deferral of penalty, which was handed down on December 9, and would have allowed him to ride through to December 18 if necessary.
“I was very keen to ride today because I knew Healthy Luck was running and I’ve done all the trials and work on him and he’s a lovely horse,” Whyte said. “From day one he indicated he had ability but he’s still very raw.”
Although Healthy Luck had the speed to compete with Peace Combination for the lead up the straight 1,000m, Whyte said he made the decision not to and let Peace Combination cross him.
“I think it was the winning of the race because my horse came back, got the slipstream and had a breather and when I’ve come to challenge again, he really dug in,” Whyte said.
“That’s the first time he’s been in behind – at the trials, he’s jumped and run and was too scared to be in behind but I would have had to drive him mad to hold out that horse today. Later, he’ll be better around a bend but the reason we didn’t go 1,200m first-up is that field shyness and I’d recommend he has another one down the straight. The kind of horse he is, he’ll come away from that experience today and learn from it and he’ll be three to four lengths better for it. Everything he has ever done in his work, he has improved on it next time.”
The Class Five dirt win of Soccer Brave was part of a double for David Ferraris, who also won with Triumphant Light (Kei Chiong Ka-kei), and Whyte has been the first jockey able to get the horse cleanly out at the start.
“Actually, he began with me last start but it was 1,200m and he couldn’t keep up but he did hold the back of the field and I said to David that he should step up to 1,650m and he’d run really well,” Whyte said.
“The key is getting out of the gates and getting comfortable. And I’m pleased he won by a good margin today because it means I won’t have to starve to ride him next time.”
Which could be a consideration after a couple of weeks’ festive season holiday in Phuket.