Hong Kong Diary

Hong Kong's newest trainers and jockeys have been in the headlines this week. Douglas Whyte and Blake Shinn are both on a high after shining at Happy Valley's first meeting of the new season but the old guard will be determined to strike back on Sky Sports Racing when Sha Tin stages a ten-race card this Sunday.

  • Saturday 14 September
  • Blog
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WHYTE TAKING FLIGHT AFTER FIRST VALLEY SUCCESS

A clear pattern is emerging as Hong Kong's newest trainer Douglas Whyte starts to make his presence felt.

Adonis was 0-20 on joining Whyte this summer, while Double Fortune was 0-15 when moving to Whyte's Olympic Stables base.

Both horses obliged first time out for their new handler and former Andre Fabre galloper Last Kingdom was another to break a 20-race losing streak when making all at Happy Valley's first meeting of the season on Wednesday night.

The fact that Whyte is able to get a feel of his new recruits in morning trackwork gives him added insight into what makes them tick.

“Last Kingdom been a bit of a difficult horse,” Whyte said. “He’s had a bit of a mouth issue and been really keen but he’s learned to switch off nicely in the mornings. It’s easy to ride the nice ones but when you get the difficult ones, as I said from Adonis, it’s a great satisfaction.”

SANNA BACK IN THE SADDLE IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE

One man whose career is on the up in tandem with Whyte's is Alberto Sanna, who lost valuable time through a nasty cycling accident last season but has started this term brightly with polished efforts on Double Fortune and Last Kingdom.

The 34-year-old Italian knows he needs more than just Whyte on his side to thrive in Hong Kong but is thankful for the friendship and support his former weighing room rival has provided thus far.

"Douglas was the first rider to talk to me when I first came here and everything he does is so professional,' he said. "It is like Ronaldo or Messi. You don't get to dominate your sport unless you do everything the right way. Our relationship now has to be about business but I hope we can continue to work well together."

SHINN OFF AND RUNNING IN NEW DREAM ROLE

A little of Blake Shinn's back story is essential to understanding the emotion of his first Valley winner on Wednesday.

Shinn's boyhood dream of testing his skills in Hong Kong looked under severe threat when he broke his neck in a trial accident at Randwick last year but his dark days are in the past after he opened his local account with a fluent front-running ride aboard Green Dispatch in the opener.

Shinn starts a three-meeting ban after Sunday's Sha Tin fixture but will be back in ample time for a string of big races in early October and has plenty to look forward to, including a likely link with Champion Trainer John Size.

WHIP AND TURTLE WORTH NOTING IN SUNDAY FEATURE

One of the tougher British imports in Hong Kong in recent years is California Whip, formerly known as Chief Whip when third in the 2016 Britannia Stakes for Richard Hannon.

The Giant’s Causeway gelding has collected almost HK$10m (just shy of a million quid in old money) for four wins and six places since joining Tony Cruz and is back in action at Sha Tin on Sunday in the featured Tailorbird Handicap over 1200m at 10.10.

Zac Purton will corner a fair slice of the market on Racing Fighter, but Dennis Yip’s grey had to work hard to subdue California Whip over course and distance in June and has a wide draw and a career high mark to contend with now.

California Whip is drawn to get a clear shot at things from stall 2 with capable 10lb claimer Alfred Chan in the irons, while Fat Turtle is back to his ideal trip after failing to stay an extended mile on his final start last season and is open to improvement this term on the back of an impressive recent trial success.

Hong Kong Diary
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