By Hans Ebert




Usually, writing the opening to either a song or an article comes easy. This one? Not really. This one started with “Karma is wonderful thing”, a reference to those who thought he should have retired 5-6 years ago. In fact, I was needled for the past three years by one individual who sees himself as a legend in his own lunchtime about horse racing. “Your mate should give up” was a frequent message.

When the announcement that some of us knew was just a shot away was finally made public today- that Douglas Whyte, champion Hong Kong jockey for thirteen consecutive years, was retiring on February 10 to become a trainer next season- guess who immediately called about “giving” his new purchase to “my mate”?

Oh, the hypocrites and hypocrisies of this world! That was going to be another intro to this story.

For the past two seasons, and especially this season, some of the most outstanding rides have come from Douglas Whyte.

All the guile, all the knowledge that comes from the experience of riding the very tight and idiosyncratic Happy Valley track came to the fore. Nobody rides Happy Valley better than Douglas Whyte. And no one will come even close to winning thirteen Hong Kong Jockey Championships. Why this record is not in the Guinness Book Of World Records is baffling. It’s never too late.

Douglas Whyte and I, we’re friends. Very good friends. We might have had a few spats, but time heals all wounds. He knows me, I know him, there’s mutual respect and trust and that’s all that matters.

I have learned quite a lot from Douglas- determination and a focus seldom seen. Some might see it as being ruthless. Better ruthless than toothless.

There’s then that ability of his to fight the odds- to swim against the tide- and succeed when there are those cheering for him to fail. To never look back.

How this is the time to regroup. Rethink. Reinvent. And come out swinging albeit with subtlety. Albeit. Good word that. Douglas has used it cleverly in his interviews about the chances of his rides. Say something without giving the game away.

There’s then that knack of catching many off guard. Just like that wonderful ride to win on Sacred Ibis on Sunday.

It was good to see Beat The Clock and Beauty Generation win. But that ride on Sacred Ibis? Vintage Douglas Whyte.

The man is a class act. He has nothing more to prove- certainly not as a jockey. He’s done it all. Thirteen times.

As a horseman, he’s studied with Monty Roberts aka The Horse Whisperer, below, and is starting again by focussing on being a trainer. A champion horse trainer.

He’s been doing his homework- working with this and that local trainer. Often taking over the training and immediately winning on those horses. We know the horses.

His recent association with John Moore has been telling. Both are professionals, extremely successful and there’s has been a business strategy that’s been in the works for some time. Networking? Perhaps.

Whatever one might wish to call it, it’s prepared Douglas Whyte for the next chapter of his career. He’s going to be a champion trainer. No doubt about that. The support from owners is already there.

The team he will build around him? This is going to be interesting. Just remember we’re talking here about Douglas Whyte. He knows the lay of the land. He knows who and what will work best for him. And his owners. He knows how Hong Kong and its racing works.

Diplomacy is another of his strong suits. Diplomacy and politics are two very different things. Not many in horse racing understands this. To Douglas Whyte, it’s a fine art.

It’s one of his major strengths. He’ll prove this as a master trainer. And a major asset to Hong Kong racing albeit in a new role.

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