Sunday 4 December 2016

Whyte fancies rest to pip Irish

JA McGrath

Published 06/08/2011 | 05:00

This is the day the purists love to hate. But Ascot's well-established Shergar Cup is also something the wider public have embraced to such an extent that today's event will attract a bigger attendance than last month's King George fixture.

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Possibly, it is the concept of the team competition -- one that it is very easy to follow -- that appeals, although a more likely explanation is that there is such a variety of activities that it is the perfect solution for a day out.

Ireland, captained by Richard Hughes, have won the team championship for the past two years, but Douglas Whyte, the South African-born 11-times Hong Kong champion, believes his Rest of the World line-up, which includes Australian Hugh Bowman and Japanese Yutaka Take, can prevent the hat-trick.

Whyte (39) is at an interesting stage in a highly successful career. His most recent title victory last month was achieved after a prolonged battle with Australian Brett Prebble.

"At one stage, they were writing me off. There were a few little jibes coming my way, some suggesting I might be nearing the end in Hong Kong. What they didn't realise was that this inspired me and made me more determined to win," Whyte said.

Whyte is the most successful jockey in Hong Kong's 40-year professional history. With the eye-watering levels of prize money, he will have accumulated millions in any currency you care to name, but claims it is not wealth that drives him. "For me, it is the glory and winners," he said earnestly.

To stress the point he is actively seeking a job in Europe.

"I would love to ride for two years in England or France. It is a racing scene that inspires me."

Whyte's best chance of a winner today comes in the finale, the six-furlong Sprint, in which he partners Kingscroft for Mark Johnston.

Restoring a reputation is one thing; maintaining it quite another.

Last season Dream Ahead was rated Frankel's equal, but this year dropped into the superstar miler's shadow until shooting to the top of the sprinting division with victory in the July Cup. Tomorrow in France he will bid to confirm the impression he made last month as he steps out in the company of top-level speedsters for the second time in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.

It was at the Normandy track 12 months ago that Dream Ahead first gave notice of his electric pace by taking the Group One Prix Morny on only his second outing and Newmarket-based trainer David Simcock, who never lost the faith, reports his charge spot-on for his return.

"He's always been a horse with huge ability," he said, "and physically he's in fantastic shape; that's where the improvement's been over the winter and up to now."

With regular rider William Buick back in the saddle, the big brown colt will face 12 rivals, including a trio of fellow three-year-olds also trying the ploy of reinvention as sprinters -- Richard Fahey-trained Wootton Bassett, the Aidan O'Brien candidate Zoffany, and French filly Moonlight Cloud.

Four-year-old Society Rock, winner of the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, Markab, Genki and Libranno complete the British raiding party.

The German Oaks is usually a parochial affair, but tomorrow's running features the William Haggas-trained Epsom heroine Dancing Rain, which travels to Dusseldorf to seek her own return to the top table after defeat in the Irish version of the Classic. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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