Via Declan Schuster, Hong Kong Jockey Club
Douglas Whyte had only one runner on the card but Hong Kong’s newest trainer made it count as Big Fortune (128lb) powered away in the Class 4 Tung Wah Group Of Hospitals Challenge Cup Handicap (1200m).
Ridden by Alberto Sanna, the son of Moshe broke well and made all to give Whyte his first cup race victory and the second win of his training career, remarkably from only eight runners for a 25% strike rate.
“It’s going to sit well on the mantelpiece, my first cup ever. Again, it’s not about the class of the race, it’s about the particular horse that’s let down for me today,” Whyte said.
The 13-time champion jockey, 47, is utilising his talents in the saddle to aid the training of his horses and admitted the five-year-old has not been the most straightforward stable acquisition.
“He’s proved a bit of a difficult horse in that he has been too keen. I think in some of his races it proved that he’s over-raced maybe and he doesn’t tend to hit the line as strongly as he can,” the South African said.
The win, meanwhile, was Sanna’s first success since 16 June, ending a three-month run of outs after returning from two injuries.
“Alberto Sanna, he’s done a lot of work for me in the mornings, he’s a lovely guy and he just needs a break and rode the horse 10 out of 10,” Whyte said. “I’m just happy for him because he puts in a bit of effort in the mornings and he deserved a winner.”
Sanna arrived in Hong Kong at the back end of the 2016/17 racing season and is looking to put his frustrations behind him.
“I cut off my holidays to come back and do work after 10 days in Italy, I came back to focus in on the new season because I wanted to start in good shape, so I don’t have to lose weight,” Sanna said.
“I knew Douglas as a legend in Hong Kong but what surprised me was that he was the first to talk to me in the jockeys’ room when I first arrived, we got along straight away,” Sanna said.
Based at Olympic Stables near the home turn at Sha Tin, Whyte has a further four entered for Wednesday’s (11 September) first race meeting of the season at Happy Valley.
Veteran galloper Lotus Breeze scored the fifth win of his career at start 67 in the Class 5 Hollywood Handicap (1400m), giving both Chad Schofield and Chris So their first wins of the new season.
So made it a double with Invincible Missile (123lb) in the Class 3 Po Yee Handicap, thanks to a determined Zac Purton, who scored a double.
California Legend made all under Karis Teetan in the Class 4 Caine Handicap (1600m) to give leading trainer Tony Cruz his fourth win this season.
Teetan struck again in the Class 4 Po Hing Handicap aboard the Paul O’Sullivan-trained Destin. O’Sullivan made it a double when the Purton-ridden Cool Team claimed the finale.
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 11 September.