It’s like watching a ping pong match and getting whiplash in the process: The battle for supremacy in the Hong Kong Jockeys Premiership between Zac Purton and Dougie Whyte is racing’s Thrilla From Manila but with the knockout blows landed in Hong Kong- and great for racing.
Unlike the duel between Brett Prebble and Whyte a couple of years ago, the difference this time is the fierce determination of both fighters.
Not to say that there wasn’t determination before, but this time around, neither jockey is giving an inch and even those who are meant to be objective racing professionals have taken sides.
Again, good for racing as long as it doesn’t deteriorate into churlish asides in a public forum. That’s a no no, it’s outta bounds and a big difference to being outspoken and being seen as a Petty Officer.
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What Hong Kong racing fans have are two tremendously competitive athletes doing the best they can and staying well away from any possible backstage politics.
Last night at Happy Valley, this ping pong match took place again with the presentation ceremony for the CSL 1010 Million Challenge being a goofy side show and ignored by all.
Their eyes were on more important things- like this racing’s answer to the Clash Of The Titans.
The Zac Purton and Douglas Whyte Show began with a ding dong battle in race one and Round One going to The Zak Attack by winning a close finish before the Durban Demon returned a knock out blow in the second aboard All Bountiful.
It was back to square one until Dougie Whyte took out race 5 aboard the John Moore trained Charles The Great.
(Source: Apple Daily)
What is great to see, apart from their determination to win on the tracks, is how much effort both jockeys are putting into fighting for winning rides, off the track.
It’s all part of the whole and what separates the men from boys and shows the business side of being a jockey.
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Sure, there are those who will repeat the old mantra that Whyte has the support and horsepower of the John Size stable. But that’s just a fact of life and part of racing.
In some ways, it’s like saying that Douglas Whyte gets zero support from Caspar Fownes, one of the leading trainers in Hong Kong with a full stable of horses. It’s all a delicate balancing act.
Let’s also not forget that new rules were introduced before the start of this season to try and “stem the tide” of any type of “exclusivity” in the Whyte-Size partnership- which has not stopped either jockey or trainer bringing in the winners.
The way in which maestro Size has used local apprentices, especially, shows just what a savvy horsemen he is and which was proven again when he booked Alvin Ng for the ride on his Aomen last night.
Ng bounced Aimen to the front and made a mockery of the senior riders by being “allowed” to lead all the way- and probably did wonders for the kid’s confidence.
(Source: Sharp Daily)
Meanwhile, with The Zac Attack firing on all cylinders and riding winners for the very much in-form Dennis Yip stable which has some very good young horses, Whyte, always the canny and savvy diplomat, has gone into overdrive to get a healthy portion of this same pie.
The result has been three winners for Yip in the past two meetings, two winners for Size- and a sudden spate of rides for other stables as if to prove that Size doesn’t matter. Well, not that much, anyway.
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Zac Purton has been no pushover. He knows his enemy, he understands The Art Of War and each race meeting knows he can’t stop proving himself.
(Source: Racing Network)
It’s just the way it is when you’re up against a twelve time champion jockey in Hongkers with rock star status.
Against a formidable foe like this, good is never good enough and it’s a draining game of having to continue proving yourself.
But at the end of the day, lessons have been learnt, bruises have been taken but you’re never out for the count. Like Raging Bull, you come back for more- and relish the fight.
Go to your respective corners, boys, and let’s have a clean fight without any outside forces trying to land any low blows.
Now, this is something no one needs and which is definitely not good for racing.