One of the most anticipated debuts in Hong Kong history will occur at Sha Tin on Sunday (1 September) when race-riding legend Douglas Whyte saddles his step-out runner as a licensed trainer, 23 years after he first rode in a race at the famous track.
The 13-time Hong Kong champion jockey has seven horses declared for the season opener, including California Fortune in the afternoon’s feature, the Class 1 HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup (1200m).
Whyte’s six-year-old, fourth in the race last year for his previous handler Tony Cruz, will face six high-class rivals: Wishful Thinker, Seasons Bloom, Winner’s Way, Regency Legend, Jolly Banner and Styling City.
“It’s been a slightly rushed preparation because he’s in a bit of a difficult situation with ratings – we’re limited with options,” Whyte said.
“Health-wise he’s fantastic though and I couldn’t fault him. Fitness-wise, he had the one trial, he blew up, which I expected him to, and I think he’s going to come on significantly from that. I would have liked to have got another trial into him and the race to have been 10 days later but you have to run where the races allow you to.”
Whyte has 47 horses at his Olympic Stables base, 26 of which are stable transfers. One such is slated to be his historic first runner, Le Panache, in the season’s first race, the Class 5 Mount Butler Handicap (1600m).