Douglas Whyte has experienced elation and disappointment in the BMW Hong Kong Derby in the last decade or so.
Whyte won the biggest race in the city three times as a jockey, saluting aboard Super Satin in 2010, Fay Fay in 2012 and Akeed Mofeed in 2013, but was just denied when competing in his first Derby as a trainer when Russian Emperor failed to reel in Sky Darci by a head in last year’s contest.
This year Whyte will attempt to go one better with Turin Redsun, who finished second behind California Spangle in the Classic Cup last time, and Whyte has learned plenty from that run.
“We rode him to get the trip and it was dictated by a pacemaker and turned into a 400m race really,” Whyte said.
“We learned that he can still turn it on, obviously he couldn’t turn it on as quick as the winner did last time but I don’t think the winner will be able to turn it on as quick as that over 2,000m.
“We learned that we can ride him forward or conservatively depending on the pace and he can adapt to circumstances. It was a very good educational run, albeit he still ran second and Alexis (Badel) was very complimentary of the run.”
Turin Redsun goes into the Derby with a similar amount of experience to Russian Emperor but there are plenty of differences between the two horses, according to Whyte.
“He’s had the same sort of preparation but he’s a different horse,” Whyte said. “He’s a smaller unit, so I can train him according to how I want to train him and he handles it.
“All he needed was that last race to set him right and he’s on track. I galloped him on Tuesday morning on the turf with a partner and he feels great.”
Whyte won just about every big Hong Kong race as a jockey but a first Derby success as a trainer could well top those wins.
“It would mean a lot,” Whyte said. “I think the Derby in Hong Kong stands out to every owner, every trainer and every jockey. It’s a significant race to win, to win any Derby in the world is a significant achievement.
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“I got beaten last year but it would be nice to go one better this year. The horse is leaning towards the right direction but you need a lot of luck in these races and a lot will depend on the pace. Fingers crossed.
“I’ve got a healthy horse, he’s working well and he’s in great order. I can’t ask for anything more.”
Elsewhere on Sunday’s Sha Tin card, Whyte has opted to run the 80-rated Astrologer in the Class Two Rapper Dragon Handicap (1,200m).
The three-year-old has won twice and hit the frame on another two occasions since arriving in Hong Kong and Whyte has chosen to let him compete off bottom weight at this level rather than to head the handicap in Class Three company.
A winner three starts ago, Astrologer makes his Sha Tin debut after finishing runner-up to Rewarding Together on his penultimate outing and a decent fourth behind the impressive Armour Eagle at Happy Valley last time.
Whyte also runs another promising type in Zoom Boom, who is due to contest the Class Three Designs On Rome Handicap (1,600m).
Winner of his last three races in Britain, he showed his best form on his third Hong Kong start last time when beaten just a neck by Majestic Victory.