Douglas Whyte has no plans to watch this year’s International Jockeys’ Championship from the weigh-in room with the legendary rider determined to secure his spot in the event on Wednesday night.
While Whyte has not been able to maintain the dominance he once had over the Hong Kong riding scene, the 47-year-old has enjoyed a form revival of sorts this season, already racking up 13 wins after finishing with just 28 last year.
The 13-time Hong Kong champion jockey is set to fight it out with Chad Schofield and the suspended Matthew Poon Ming-fai for the final spot in the lucrative event, needing at least one win to put himself in contention.
With five rides on the Happy Valley card, Whyte is set to leave his run until the last two races where he will be aboard strong chances Happy Dragon and Iron Boy.
The John Moore-trained Happy Dragon lines up in the Class Three Queen’s Road Central Handicap (1,650m) after a luckless run two weeks ago.
“I think the way Happy Dragon is going, he’s been held up twice so I just need an ounce of luck to go my way, he’s probably my best ride,” he said. “The key to him is a good gate, which he has got.”
Whyte’s last chance of the night – Iron Boy – will race in the Class Three Sutherland Handicap (1,200m) after running strongly first-up in last month’s daytime meeting at the Valley.
“He was first-up and he is quite a burley individual so I think he would come on from that,” Whyte said.
As a three-time champion of the IJC and 10 years since his last victory, Whyte was forced to sit on the sidelines last season but is hopeful of securing a spot to once again ride against the world’s best.
“It’s a great event and something I would love to get back into,” he said.
“It is the night at the Valley … to be part of that would be fantastic because you’d rather be out there competing with the best of the best rather than sitting there watching it, it’s a great feeling if you do get in.”
Whyte will also ride the David Ferraris-trained London Master in the Class Four Jackson Handicap (1,200m) after flashing home last month for second on the gelding.
As the richest jockeys’ challenge event in the world, the winner on the night will take home HK$500,000.
Whyte said the event is normally wide open as horses are randomly selected for jockeys in the specialist races.
“A lot depends on the horses you draw, so there is an element of luck in that regard but from my perspective it would be fantastic to be in it once again,” he said.