He’s got no shortage of promising youngsters in his stable but it’s clear Douglas Whyte has a soft spot for Farhh Above, even if the colt is unlikely to be the four-year-old series star he originally hoped.
The lightly raced Farhh Above dazzled the Sha Tin crowd on Saturday, producing a sparkling last-to-first surge under Vincent Ho Chak-yiu to take out the Class Three Nga Tsin Wai Handicap (1,200m) in his first run since July.
After a win and a second behind Aethero in two Griffin runs for Francis Lui Kin-wai, Farhh Above transferred to Whyte’s stable in the off-season before bone stress all but put paid to the horse featuring in the lucrative Classic Series, which begins on January 27 with the Classic Mile.
“I’ve taken that long to get him to the races so I’m certainly not going to ruin him by just finding a race and putting him in because it’s part of a series or it’s a big race,” Whyte said. “I’ve got too much respect for the horse and I think he’s too good a horse to be doing that with.
“[The four-year-old series] is always at the back of the mind and then obviously everything slows down and goes out the window when he’s had that much time off and you’ve got to nurse him back.
“But he’s been out of cotton wool for a while now and he’s handled everything that I’ve asked of him in order to be competitive first-up and he had to be competitive first-up if we think he’s going to compete in any of the series.
“The problem is that time is against him – he’s probably a month behind and I refuse to try and look at a race now and say I’m going for that.”
Whether he features in the four-year-old series or not, Whyte is excited by what lies ahead for Farhh Above after he came from last at the turn to whistle past his rivals.
“Any horse that comes from last to first the way he did it on a track like today’s, it’s got to be a nice horse in the making,” he said.
“I’ll just let him go home and I’ll sit down and look at the programme, but first and foremost it’s all about the horse. He’ll indicate to me when we next turn up at the races.
“I think I will possibly look towards 1,400m now, he ultimately wants a mile but after that run I’m sure the speed will be out of him and he’ll be crying out for 1,400m.”
It was another big day for Whyte, with his two winners taking his tally to 23 for the season, but it could have been all that much bigger, with first-starter Wayfoong Star, Best Alliance and Xponential all misfiring despite being sent out as favourite.
The first-season handler has now saluted at least once at the past seven meetings in a dream debut season that is showing no signs of slowing down.
His other win on Saturday also came from a four-year-old, with Inner Flame making it two from two in the first section of the Class Four Carpenter Handicap (1,200m).
The son of Zoustar hit the line nicely under Alexis Badel despite carrying top weight and Whyte was nothing but complimentary.
“He’s a thorough professional and I was happy to see him come to the races and improve on his effort first-up, which he needed to do to deliver the goods,” he said.
“The way he’s improved and what he’s shown me, how he’s enjoying stepping out – he’s going to handle himself and he’s going to be competitive in the next grade.”
And for anyone hoping Wayfoong Star isn’t as good as the early hype suggested, Whyte brushed off his debut fourth, where he led until the 100m before fading.
“He’s never trialled out in front and I don’t think he knew what he was doing,” Whyte said. “But I think he’s a very nice horse in the making and he’ll come back to the races and he’ll redeem himself.”