Dougie Whyte, Julie Alexander, Mick Goss, Dougie’s Mum and Derreck David
Summerhill Box, Greyville, Vodacom Durban July 2011
(Photo : Summerhill Stud)
HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL RACES
Sha Tin Racecourse, Hong Kong
11 December 2011
Just under a year ago, South Africa was admitted to the prestigious conglomerate of nations known as Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), and the 2011 staging of their international meeting by the local Jockey Club in the Chinese enclave of Hong Kong, is the first since our admission.
It is, of course, the season for international events, and especially jockey’s internationals, and these always invoke a measure of parochial interest. South African jockeys have dominated the Hong Kong championship (one of the most sought after titles in racing) for 18 of the last 19 years. The most successful of these is a man who might legitimately lay claim to the title of “Best Jockey in the World”. He is the Durban-bred and raised Dougie Whyte, who just happens also to be the most successful rider in the history of the jockey’s challenge. Local fans will remember it was Dougie who piloted London News to his epic victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Gr1), heralding the return to the international fold of South African horses, and that it was he, aboard the Summerhill-bred Pierre Jourdan, who ran Igugu to three quarters of a length in this year’s Vodacom Durban July. You can bet your bottom dollar Dougie will be at the action end of things come Sunday’s Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races.
Rocket Man’s South African connection
Summerhill clients, Ronnie and Bev Napier, Jean Marc and Clothilde Ulcoq, are all in Hong Kong for this annual jamboree, as they have been for some years as guests of the Hong Kong Jockey Club following the initiation of their attendance in the days when Major General Guy Watkins was still the CEO. It is a sign of their loyalty and affection for racing in that jurisdiction, that they haven’t missed a meeting in close to twenty years, and you’d have to forgive them a measure of patriotic sentiment when it comes to the chances of the South African-connected Rocket Man in the Hong Kong Sprint (Gr1).
A victim of an irrepressible late surge from the South African-bred, JJ The Jet Plane (by Jet Master) in last year’s renewal, Rocket Man’s owned by local doyen, Fred Crabbia, trained by Pat Shaw and his regular rider is Felix Coetzee. He’s reported to have worked up a storm on Tuesday morning on the Sha Tin all-weather track.
“He’d have done more if we’d let him, but he’ll do a piece of work on the grass tomorrow over about 800 metres”, Trainer Shaw explained.
The six-year-old brings top credentials into the 1200 metre event, having won the Gr1 Dubai Golden Shaheen over the Meydan Tapeta in March and the Gr1 Krisflyer International Sprint on the turf at Kranji racecourse in May.