He’s seen in the heat of battle just how good Joao Moreira is and now Douglas Whyte is enjoying being able to sit back and admire the handiwork of the Magic Man from afar.
Whyte said it was “just lovely to watch” Moreira go about his business aboard Relentless Me as the pair combined for their first winner in the Class Four Yan Chai Trophy (1,400m) at Sha Tin on Saturday.
“It’s beautiful, it’s just lovely to watch it,” Whyte said. “It’s lovely to watch things unfold as you’d expect a jockey of Joao’s calibre to make them. Rides like that win you races and that’s why he’s one of the best.”
The first-year trainer admitted the instincts that helped him to 1,813 wins in Hong Kong as a jockey still kick in when his horses race.
“I visualise myself on them. When I was watching the race and they were going around the turn and seeing [Simple Elegant] in front, I was just saying ‘don’t pull out, just stay behind the one in front and he’ll take you up to the 200m and you’ll go by him’,” Whyte said.
Moreira was in the box seat in the run, trailed leader Simple Elegant into the straight before easing off the rail about 300m from home and going to toe to toe with Michael Chang Chun-wai’s Golden Four in the run to the line.
“Joao won the race, had he pulled out and gone around the other horse, we were there to be beaten and Golden Four would have got his shot,” Whyte said.
Relentless Me hung on to win by a short head to take his record to a win and a second for Whyte after three wins in 26 starts for Chris So Wai-yin.
“I think the key to him is that he likes to be a little bit fresh. First-up I did slightly less with him than my normal ones but he still managed to run well,” Whyte said.
“He let down and he showed a bit of tenacity when Golden Four came at him. He stuck his neck out and he wanted to win today.
“He used to be keen and didn’t really hit the line. I put blinkers on him to make him focus and they have done just that.”
It wasn’t only aboard Relentless Me that Moreira’s class shone through, with the Brazilian landing five winners for the afternoon to continue a phenomenal run that has now netted 16 winners in the last five meetings.
He kicked things off with Joy Master in the opening event before rounding out proceedings with three on the bounce, Beauty Day, Aethero and Craig’s Star all getting the chocolates.
The haul takes Moreira to 23 winners for the term and sees him open up a gap on rival Zac Purton, who only had one victory on Saturday and sits on 17.
Payback time for Savvy Yeung
Jockey Keith Yeung Ming-lun settled a score at Sha Tin on Saturday, winning aboard Savvy Six nearly 18 months after the horse wreaked havoc on the way to the starting gates.
After refusing to proceed to the gates for a race in May last year, Savvy Six’s bridle came loose and then fell off, with the horse galloping freely with Yeung in the saddle before being scratched.
“It’s payback, two seasons ago the whole bridle came off and he just took off on me,” Yeung said.
Yeung hadn’t been aboard Savvy Six since and wouldn’t have been on Saturday either if not for the misfortune of Matthew Chadwick, who was slated to ride the horse but was stood down on Friday due to a viral infection.
“It’s unfortunate for him but good for me,” Yeung smiled.
It’s been a big week for Yeung, who landed his 250th winner at Happy Valley on Wednesday to outride his two-pound local rider allowance.
Savvy Six’s win in the Class Two Tsuen Fu Handicap (1,800m) was the icing on the cake and came at the perfect time for Yeung.
“It makes a good point to show people that after losing the two-pound claim I am still competitive. It’s a meaningful win for me,” he said.
After settling midfield, Yeung decided to ride for luck at the turn and sneaked along the rail before easing around the leaders and taking control in the final 300m to defeat Tianchi Monster by half a length.
“He’s always had the ability, he’s just difficult,” Yeung said. “Even today, I had Joao in front of me [on Star Performance] and there was a tiny gap and Joao was closing up.
“When I went for that gap, he wanted to do it and he was aggressive. He wanted to squeeze through that gap and go past Joao but as soon as he was leading and had nothing next to him, he started thinking and you could just feel him start looking around.”
Beauty Generation is rightfully feted as one of the greatest horses to have ever graced Hong Kong, but it appears his achievements have slipped the minds of some.
British media outlet Thoroughbred Racing Commentary published a list of the 40 highest-earning gallopers of all time, but somehow John Moore’s superstar missed out.
Mighty Australian mare Winx leads the way with about £14 million (HK$139 million), ahead of Arrogate and Thunder Snow, while Beauty Generation should have slotted in 14th with about £8.6 million, but was somehow left off the list.
They didn’t forget Hong Kong’s previous leading prize money earner though with Viva Pataca coming in 30th with just under £6 million pounds. (The exercise was done using the exchange rate at the time).
The world’s all-time highest-earning Thoroughbred racehorses: where is #Enable now?— TRC (@TRCommentary) October 11, 2019
The £1 million-plus she earned for finishing second has pushed her career earnings past the £10 million mark.
Full list https://t.co/GqHdyDeExL pic.twitter.com/hEuYr9vPgL
Speaking of Beauty Generation, one group who is well aware of his capabilities is the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings panel.
The seven-year-old is now ranked number four overall with a rating of 127, earning that mark for his dominant first-up win in the Group Three Celebration Cup on October 1. It equals his previous best, which came in last year’s Group One Hong Kong Mile.
Beauty Generation is one point behind the three tied at the top – Enable, Crystal Ocean and last week’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Waldgeist.
What the bell is going on?
At the start of every race in Hong Kong, a bell will ring after the gates crash back to signify the event is underway.
It’s a unique tradition that immediately grabs the attention of anyone who might have drifted off into their own world to remind them to focus again.
But for some reason there have been issues at Sha Tin recently.
At a previous meeting the bell wouldn’t ring at all during some races but it went to another level on Saturday as it malfunctioned.
It sounded as if the bell was having a fit and continued long after it usually does. It was very odd, but you would expect it to be fixed pretty quickly.