Douglas Whyte is looking to send red-hot rider Alexis Badel home in style with the trainer turning to the Frenchman for three plum rides at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The meeting marks Badel’s last in the saddle before heading home for the European season and Whyte concedes he will leave a hole in the Hong Kong riding ranks, but he’s hoping for one last hurrah with the popular 30-year-old.
Badel and Whyte will combine in the last three races of the day with Inner Flame, Farhh Above and Super Wealthy as the South African trainer attempts to snap what he admits has been a “slow three weeks”.
With Farhh Above a certainty beaten earlier this month, Vincent Ho Chak-yiu has been thrown off in favour of Badel in the Class Three Lai King Handicap (1,400m).
“It was hard to digest,” Whyte admitted. “That’s racing for you, let’s hope [Farhh Above] can redeem himself.
“He has pulled up well, he didn’t have a really hard run, he got knocked around a little bit which was a bit of a concern but thank goodness he has pulled up OK and he is in good order.”
As a run on galloper, Farhh Above is likely to find himself with it all to do yet again at the top of the straight but Whyte said he was not going to change his running pattern in an attempt to reform the four-year-old.
“He is the kind of horse that comes from off the pace so I don’t think we are going to change his racing pattern or manners just yet,” Whyte said.
Beauty Loyal races to a game win in the finale to give Joao Moreira a treble.— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 8, 2020
BUT take a look at Farhh Above...
...the exciting 4yo had every slammed shut before charging to a dead-heat 4th. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/RQSeWmJ6ia
“He has an amazing turn of foot so I think that is the key to him. He’s a lovely horse, you wouldn’t mind a handful of them.”
Badel has been one of the success stories of the 2019-20 season, having amassed 25 winners in his 245 starts to date.
As a 13-time champion jockey, Whyte heaped high praise on Badel, saying he had a unique way of getting horses to run for him.
“He will be missed, he has great hands,” Whyte said.
“He is a huge asset to Hong Kong, there are few jockeys who can run three-wide and still get their horses to pick up in the straight and he is one of them.
“He doesn’t panic and he is a lovely rider, I will be looking forward to him when he comes back.”
Badel will also pilot Super Wealthy who steps into Class Two for the first time in the Cheung Shan Handicap (1,400m).
The four-year-old boasts a two-from-three record in Hong Kong and has emerged as one of the more promising youngsters this season.
While Class Two finds many horses out, Whyte said he was not concerned about Super Wealthy’s ability to handle the step up.
“I’m not really concerned about the class, he is a classy individual,” he said.
“It is more about hoping that he gets a comfortable run around so that his racing manners allow him to finish the race off.
“He has improved, he is a lovely individual, the penny has dropped with him.
“He came here a bit headstrong, he thought his mouth was the boss and it has taken him a bit of time to realise he can do things the right way and relax, his racing is indicating that so I think it is now time for him to step up to seven furlongs.”
Despite both Super Wealthy and Farhh Above boasting Derby credentials, Whyte is highly unlikely to push his two stable stars through to the lucrative race.
Having racked up 25 winners so far this season, Whyte said he could not be happier with his debut season in the training ranks, despite going 36 races since his last win.
“It has been a bit of a slow three weeks but every stable goes through that, every jockey goes through that,” he said.
“I remember when I was riding, a lot of horses are caught up with their ratings and others are young horses waiting to get going so the patches happen.”