Douglas Whyte is an iconic figure in Hong Kong racing, a competitor of supreme focus whose abilities and mastery of the circuit yielded 13 consecutive champion jockey titles up to 2013.
The South African’s successes down the years make him the all-time top earner in the jockeys’ room, his mounts having banked an ice-cool HK$1.5 billion in stakes money. Already far and away the Hong Kong jockey with the most career wins to his name, on Sunday (28 October) at Happy Valley Whyte will aim to pass another milestone.
This past Wednesday at the city track, the man they call “The Durban Demon” crouched low over the David Ferraris-trained Electric Lightning and drove through the line to take his Hong Kong win tally to 1,799. Rounding up is the goal this weekend.
“I’ve got some awkward draws, and I’ll need a bit of luck to go my way, but let’s hope I can do it on Sunday,” Whyte said at Sha Tin this morning (Friday, 26 October).
The 46-year-old has come through some lean spells in recent seasons, and retirement rumours intermittently do the rounds, but he currently sits fifth in the premiership with eight wins on the board. And with his all-time tally more than 900 clear of nearest pursuer Zac Purton, he admitted that this latest landmark had not blinked on his radar until recently.
“Up until a couple of weeks ago, when someone said I only had four or five to go, I thought I was still quite a way off,” he said. “Going into races I’m not conscious of it, really – of course, I’m aware of it because everyone talks about it and it’s a lovely figure to get to but it’s not something I’m focussing all of my attention on.
“It certainly will be a good goal to achieve,” he added.
Whyte has a book of seven rides on the 10-race card. One of those is the John Moore-trained Storm Signal in the Class 3 Ma Wan Handicap (1000m), a last start winner at the course and distance for the former champion.
“It’s difficult because he’s gone up (eight points) in the handicap and the draw (11) has done us no favours, but the horse himself seems to be in similar order and he won with a bit of authority last time,” he said.
“A lot will depend on luck and how he breaks. He’s carrying 133lb now so if I had to ride him in a similar fashion as last time – on the lead – it might tell in the end. Hopefully the speed is on so I can get in and get a good cart into the race and then I think he can give a good account of himself.”
– News from Hong Kong Jockey Club