Douglas Whyte’s first winning double since May last year perhaps wasn’t even the best news he got all day at Sha Tin as John Moore confirmed the Durban Demon would be aboard Beauty Generation in the Group Two Chairman’s Trophy on Sunday.
With Zac Purton committed to Time Warp in the race, Whyte takes over on the dual Group One winner.
“That’s a lovely ride – I can tell you I’m very happy about that one,” Whyte beamed after delivering Star Shine and Royal Performer with faultless displays.
That engagement in one of the features next weekend was not the only news of consequence as Italian jockey Umberto Rispoli says he expects to ride on Sunday at Sha Tin, just 16 days after breaking his right collarbone in three places.
“I have to test myself out with some trackwork rides but I’m confident I will be OK. I’m hungry – you don’t get anywhere just sitting on the couch,” was how he explained his secret for healing so fast.
“I have five rides, I think, maybe one in the Group Two mile but it’s not certain. It has cost me a few winners being out so I’m very keen to get back.”
Whyte said his winning ride on the Caspar Fownes-trained Royal Performer for legendary owner Purviz Shroff, turned his mind back to one of his very first winners in Hong Kong in September, 1996.
“I think it was maybe my third or fourth meeting riding here that I won a race for Mrs Shroff and her husband at Happy Valley. It was a horse called Royal Pride, trained by Geoff Lane,” he said. “So it’s such a pleasure to win today for her – if anyone deserves a winner it’s Mrs Shroff. The one concern pre-race was the horse moving from the dirt back to the turf, which is less forgiving but the surface was quite lush there today and he showed me a good turn of foot.”
The Francis Lui Kin-wai-trained Star Shine has been a project for Whyte, who rode the gelding his first morning in Hong Kong and has stayed on since.
“And I’m grateful for Francis and the owners sticking with me. He ran a nice race over 1,200m at his debut here then we tried him at 1,400m because he looked like he wanted it,” Whyte said. “But it seems like he’s really a 1,200m sprinter who likes to run on. He put the writing on the wall last time when he was held up and a bit unlucky.”