Douglas Whyte’s rich vein of form straddled the turn-of-the-year. The first-season handler snared the last race of 2019 with Last Kingdom and took the first race in 2020 when Iron Boy dug deep to take the Class 4 Palm Handicap (1400m) by a neck under Karis Teetan at Sha Tin yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, 1 January).
“You wouldn’t have dreamed for a better start than that. I’ve got a great team behind me; every ship needs a captain and it needs a crew as well – they hold the ship together,” he said.
Whyte made it a double when Super Wealthy opened his account in section one of the Class 3 Chinese Banyan Handicap (1200m) at his second start, and in some style.
“When you work him in the morning, he gives you a real classy feel, he covers ground without you even knowing it and you’re running times: you try and run 25 or 26 (seconds) and you’re running 24s and he’s got his ears pricked. Those sorts of horses have always got a bit of class up their sleeve, but look, he’s only a two-time starter and I’m going to have a bit of fun with him,” the handler said.
Whyte believes the four-year-old will get 1400 metres “and possibly a mile later on” but is happy to stick to 1200m for now as he continues his education. The gelding arrived in Hong Kong with a maiden win from his only start in Australia and made a good impression first-up at Sha Tin when second to the talented Beauty Applause.
“He was very intractable in his first race here in Hong Kong and I thought it was a very good effort because first-timers don’t overcome that and still hit the line,” Whyte said.
“What I’ve had to get instilled in him is that it’s okay to sit behind and not charge – when he hears a noise behind him he thinks he has to go. He’s been a work in progress to just take the chill pill and get some confidence and he’s learning pretty well.”
Jack Wong punched the air as he delivered a 146/1 jolt in the Class 5 Yew Handicap (1800m). The rider snared his third of the season and first since 27 October when the David Hall-trained Mcmunigal – runner-up in the Group 3 Killavullan Stakes in Ireland pre-import – found his feet at the 15th time of asking in Hong Kong, off a career-low rating of 31.
The Frankie Lor stable sealed a double when apprentice Alfred Chan got the better of a blanket finish aboard 40/1 longshot Looking Good in the Class 3 Cotton Tree Handicap (1400m).
Neil Callan gave the Paul O’Sullivan-trained Starship a power-packed ride to win the Class 4 Willow Handicap (1600m), taking the Irishman’s tally for the term to seven.