IT’S surprising to see jockey Douglas Whyte booked to ride CLOUD NINE (1.15pm) for trainer Tony Millard in the third race of today’s action.
Whyte, and two-time South African champion trainer Millard, have never been the best of friends since Millard blamed Whyte for getting beat on his beloved and legendry two-times horse of the year Ambitious Dragon in the Champions Mile back in 2012.
‘The Durban Demon’ Whyte, as he was affectionately known back in the halcyon days when he rode all the best horses, is now struggling.
One winner from 62 rides suggests he is in the twilight of his career, and it would be a shame if he couldn’t add more victories to his already staggering all-time HK record of 1764 winners, having been crowned Hong Kong champion jockey 13 times.
CLOUD NINE produced an encouraging performance when runner-up over today’s trip at Sha Tin on his seasonal reappearance last month.
He was subsequently sharpened up for this event, when trialling over six furlongs with Whyte aboard eight days ago.
Having already won at the Valley from a 6lbs lower mark, he has an obvious chance, especially coming from the prime number one draw.
In-form Premium Champion with Purton aboard, and fast-improving The Jazz are his main rivals, but here’s hoping that Whyte bounces the five-year-old straight into the lead from the off, and then shows the clock in his head is still ticking to perfection as he dictates the tempo throughout the contest.
You never know, he could bring a smile to the face of Millard when greeting him in the winners’ circle!
Cloud Nine 1.15pm Happy Valley