When legendary former jockey Douglas Whyte tells you that you’re riding well, it’s bound to put a spring in your step.
Lyle Hewitson heads into Happy Valley on a high after riding winners at the past two meetings and with Whyte’s praises ringing in his ears following a fine front-running victory aboard Natural Gold at Sha Tin on Sunday.
“When you get a compliment from someone like Dougie, who is obviously a decorated jockey, you really know that you’ve done things right and done something really well,” Hewitson said.
“For him to say what he has said of late and about that ride in particular, it does mean a lot, but you’re only as good as your last ride so I’ve just got to repeat that and keep delivering the goods.
“It’s nice to get on the board consistently and to be performing well. It’s always nice to get it going, but it’s more important to keep it rolling and keep the momentum up.”
The relationship with Whyte has been the cornerstone for Hewitson in his comeback season in Hong Kong and good communication is the bedrock of their success.
“One of the big things is that everything is open for discussion and in the days after a race, it’s easy to get on the phone to each other,” Hewitson said.
“He always gives me a call and discusses things about the horses, things we can look to do or how we can change things for next time.
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“Those sort of conversations build more trust and a better relationship so that when you go out to ride the horses, you feel more at home and more confident because you’ve both had a plan.
“Although we’ve had good results and are running a lot of places, it’s so vital to try to stick with those horses and try to get them into the winner’s box.
“Fortunately, I’ve had those opportunities from Dougie where I’ve got horses to improve and when they’re ready to win, he has given me the rides. I’ve learned a lot from working with him.”
Hewitson has five rides for four different trainers at the Valley on Wednesday but Whyte does not feature among them, which is a sure sign that the young South African is benefiting from new relationships.
“I had two horses that I could have been on for Dougie, but I had prior commitments which I had to honour and they are decent rides,” Hewitson said.
“You’re not a stable jockey to anyone in Hong Kong and Dougie has been supporting me a lot, so where I can ride for him I take it with both hands but it’s important to have relationships all around the trainers’ stand and try to bring in results for everyone.”
Hewitson has a couple of live chances in his quest to ride a winner for the third meeting in a row and Nordic Combined looks to have a good chance in section one of the Class Four Matheson Handicap (1,200m).
“I think he’s probably my best chance on the card,” Hewitson said. “His debut was good over the 1,000m at Happy Valley and I expected him to run a good race next time.
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“He performed well and he would have come on for that again. He’s got a good draw again and he’s a decent chance.”
Let’s Do It should also provide Hewitson with the opportunity to salute in the Class Three Canal Handicap (1,650m). David Hall’s runner finished third behind Running Glory last time and the winner has since followed up.
“I’m hopeful of a good run from him,” Hewitson said. “With racing, he’s developed into a horse wanting a mile and he performed smartly last time. The formlines have been franked, he’s coming out of a good race, he’s in a good vein of form. He hasn’t drawn a bad gate and he’ll be competitive.”
Meanwhile, the Jockey Club confirmed on Tuesday that owners with starters will be allowed to return to the races from Champions Day on April 24, and that visits to stables and attendance at barrier trials will also be restored.