Douglas Whyte hopes Turin Redsun can continue outstanding season in BMW Hong Kong Derby
Famed by an unmatched riding record, Douglas Whyte will bid to add the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) as a fresh training pinnacle when he saddles Turin Redsun in the HK$24 million Classic at Sha Tin on Sunday (20 March).
Whyte’s 1,813 career winners and 13 consecutive jockeys’ championships outline the South African’s phenomenal riding career but, having piloted Super Satin (2010), Fay Fay (2012) and Akeed Mofeed (2013) to Derby success, Whyte focus is now firmly fixed on Turin Redsun, who jumps from barrier six under Alexis Badel tomorrow.
“To have a live chance going into the Derby is very special. This horse is going along the right way, having had only a few runs but I think he has the potential to take the next step. I’ve done my job, now it’s up to Alexis. He’s a Group 1 rider and we’ve got a perfect gate,” Whyte said.
“We’re on track. I just hope from Alexis’ perspective and the horse’s perspective, it’s a truly-run race. This is what this race should be about, it should be truly-run. It’s now going to boil down to tactics and how it unfolds up on the day.”
Turin Redsun’s fast-finishing efforts when fourth in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) behind Romantic Warrior and second in the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) behind California Spangle mark the gelding out as leading contender in the final leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic series.
Yet to win in Hong Kong, the son of Dubawi – the same sire as Akeed Mofeed – has steadily acclimatised since arriving from England, where he was a dual winner as Mithras for John and Thady Gosden.
“Since the first day he stepped out, he’s just keep improving and that’s what you want to see. You want to see them enjoy their surroundings and their work – and he has,” Whyte said.
“He’s quickly adapted and accepted everything. He had a lovely blow-out in a trial (working gallop) last week and he’s stepped up again. Early on, he was a dark horse for the Derby, he was on nobody’s radar as a Derby horse. He’s just stepped up and he’s shown me that he’s ready to take them on in the Derby, so he gets his chance.
“What he loses in height, he makes up in heart. He’s got a little bit of similarity in that way to Akeed Mofeed.”
Badel, who sits fourth in this season’s championship with 31 wins to trail only Zac Purton (90), Joao Moreira (85) and Karis Teetan (47), is “very confident.”
“I believe he’s had an ideal preparation and he’s coming at the right time and his run in the Classic Cup was massive. I believe the 2000m will be ideal for him and the draw is good. He is mentally tough and in the Classic Cup it was a sprint only from the home turn and he ran very well,” the Frenchman said.
“The Derby is a very open race. So, you want to have a smooth run. I think this is a very tactical race and I think from this draw, I can be in a good position.”
Francis Lui will saddle The Irishman as he chases a second Derby triumph following Golden Sixty’s success in 2020, placing trust in Blake Shinn’s skill to overcome barrier 13.
“Blake is a very good jockey, he has won a lot of Group 1 races both in Australia and Hong Kong and I believe he can handle it,” Lui said.
Shinn is adamant The Irishman, who was twice placed at Group level in Australia for Mark Newnham, is poised to run a big race.
“I believe we’re going in there in as good a shape as we can. He’s a very impressive horse, great engine, big stride and I think he’s going to run very well,” Shinn said.
“He came over from Australia with very good form and a highly-rated horse. At each run here, he’s continued to improve but, through the circumstances of barriers and other things, he hasn’t got a win against his name.
“I think he has got the credentials – he’s got a staying pedigree, he’s got a great set of lungs on him and if he can relax and get a smooth passage, he’s going to give it a big shake.
“I believe I’ve got the horse to win the race. I firmly believe that. He’s absolutely peaking for the day on Sunday. It comes down to the right run – and that’s my job. Francis and his team have done their job, so I just hope I can ride a good race and he’ll be there in the finish.”
The meeting at Sha Tin this Sunday (20 March) kicks off at 1pm with Class 4 Ping Hai Star Handicap (1200m).