Whyte scaled heights that may never be reached again
The news that Douglas Whyte is to retire from the saddle on February 10th to take up training was hardly a major shock but his impact on Hong Kong racing is hard to overestimate.
The Durban Demon has won practically every race of note in the calendar at least once and his running total of over 1800 winners will surely never be matched.
Not every top rider who turns to training makes the same impact in a new sphere but the omens for Whyte are good, not least because he is a renowned horseman who has built up the most impressive contact book in Hong Kong over the last three decades.
Add in the fact that Whyte’s old ally John Moore is due to retire come the end of next season and it isn’t hard to see the new recruit to the training ranks making a major impact sooner rather than later.
Big two firmly on course for Sha Tin rematch
Moore is keeping the door slightly (very slightly, in truth) ajar for Beauty Generation to visit Royal Ascot this summer but Hong Kong’s star miler has a more immediate UK date when the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings for 2018 are announced in London on Wednesday.
Beauty Generation looks set to be among the world’s elite with a mark of 127 or 128 and looked at the peak of his powers again on his first run of 2019 when landing the G1 Stewards’ Cup over 1600m in commanding all-the-way fashion under Zac Purton at Sha Tin on Sunday.
That success came around an hour after old rival Beat The Clock had made his G1 breakthrough over 1200m in the Centenary Sprint Cup under Joao Moreira and the pair will square off for a second time over 1400m in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup on February 17th.
The form book shows that Beat The Clock crept up on Beauty Generation’s inside to draw level last February only to go down by a head as the winner rallied.
“Joao let out a roar when he came upsides me that day but the noise just seemed to spur Beauty Generation on again,” recalls Purton.
The stage is set for another heavyweight battle next month. And, if the race is anything like last year, then Moreira won’t be the only one roaring.
Perennial maidens get their chance at Happy Valley on Wednesday
You pay your money and take your chance when it comes to exporting a horse from Europe to Hong Kong.
Some transfers pay off in spades – witness the G1 winning siblings Time Warp and Glorious Forever – but others seem to struggle no matter how far they slip down the ratings ladder.
Travel Datuk showed very useful form when known as Rockaway Valley for Jessie Harrington, while Helene Charisma had the Cloth of Stars and Talismanic behind when landing the Grand Prix de Paris under the name of Mont Ormel.
Both horses have flattered to deceive too often since to be backed with confidence, but Travel Datuk has drawn the plum inside gate for the Hong Kong Football Club Centenary Handicap at 12.45 and that could be a big help in a winnable contest.
Helene Charisma’s long winless streak is largely of his own making as he seldom gives the impression he enjoys his job when things get tough.
Logic suggests that the progressive ex-Irish gelding Bigwood is the safer option in the Southorn handicap at 2.15 but it will be fascinating to see whether Douglas Whyte can finally coax a win from John Moore’s mercurial gelding just 24 hours after announcing his retirement date.