A racing legend will bow out of the Hong Kong jockeys’ room at Sha Tin on Sunday, 10 February. More than 22 years after he first walked in, Douglas Whyte will clear his belongings and pack up his saddle for the final time as a professional rider.
“I bet you there’s a queue of them (jockeys) waiting, trying to move into that spot,” Whyte said with a smile this morning (Friday, 8 February).
“It’ll be hard. I’ve had that gear for a long time and it’s all I’ve ever known.”
The man who won 13 consecutive Hong Kong championships has partnered stars like Ambitious Dragon, Oriental Express, Akeed Mofeed, Indigenous and Glorious Days, accrued an incredible 1,813 wins including Group 1s and Derbies and not a cent less than HK$1,586,280,036.67 in stakes money. He has only seven more rides before it’s over and his life as ‘Douglas Whyte, trainer’ begins.
“I think it’ll be a lot more emotional than last Wednesday at Happy Valley,” he said, recalling the crowd’s warmth and the jockeys’ guard of honour after his final race at the city track.
The South African, 47, has achieved more than he could have imagined in the years since his mother planted before him a tough decision when, as a horse mad boy, he was considering joining his homeland’s apprentice academy.
“My mother tried to make it tough for me: she said, ‘If you stay I’ll buy you another pony but if you go I’m selling the two that you’ve got’. That was at 12 years old, so that’s how much I wanted to be a jockey: I had to give up my ponies and leave home and go and do a five-year apprenticeship. I wasn’t going to let it fail after that decision!” he revealed.