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2008 Cathay Pacific International Jockeys' Championship


Douglas Whyte

Hong Kong based jockey Douglas Whyte celebrates his win in the 2008 Cathay Pacific International Jockey Championship

© Vanessa Ng
Updated December 12, 2008

Douglas Whyte, Hong Kong's undisputed champion jockey for the last 8 seasons, won his second consecutive Cathay Pacific International Jockeys' Championship and third overall, in the 11th renewal of the big event at Happy Valley on Wednesday evening in Hong Kong. The South African-born 37-year-old failed to win any of the three legs of the championship, but took home the HK$200,000 first prize by finishing second in all three legs. Jockeys were assigned their mounts randomly with the races run as handicaps. Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said, "It has been a wonderful night, with great competition out on the track and the jockeys have treated our customers to some top-class racing. The atmosphere all around the track was very good, there was a real buzz of excitement, so I think we can safely call the night a big success."

In the first leg, U.S. jockey Cornelio Velasquez closed down the center of the course to win aboard 14-1 Super Genki, finishing 1 3/4 lengths in front of Boba Win and jockey Douglas Whyte. Pacesetter Classa Supreme and U.S. jockey Garrett Gomez hung on for third. In the second leg, 11-1 Ever King with German jockey Andrasch Starke raced in mid-pack early and took over the lead late to defeat Douglas Whyte's mount Royal Portrait. French jockey Christophe Lemaire was third aboard Mega Bullet. A three-horse photo ensued at the end of the third leg, with Christophe Lemaire winning aboard Kenobe by a head. Douglas Whyte's mount Rewarding Star nosed out UK jockey Jamie Spencer's mount Mainland Shuttle for second, clinching the unprecedented third Jockey Championship victory for Whyte.

In the end, Douglas White finished with 18 points for the win, followed by Christophe Lemaire's 16 points. Cornelio Velasquez and Andrasch Starke tied for third place with 12 points each, while Garrett Gomez and Jamie Spencer tied for fifth with 4 points each. The rest of the riders, including last year's runner-up Christophe Soumillon, Pat Smullen, and Damien Oliver, failed to score any points. In a change from last year, only the top three riders per race score points.

Winning rider Whyte said, "I'm a happy guy. Sorry to not have had any wins but it is points that count in these competitions, though I think I was unlucky in the final race. I was in a perfect position on the home turn when the horse on my inside (Mainland Shuttle, ridden by Jamie Spencer) came out and checked my horse. I know Kenobe has come from behind to beat us, but without that interference, Rewarding Star would have been off and gone and I doubt Kenobe would have caught us. I had some great rides and good allies. It would be marvelous to make it three in a row next year. When we are out there against these very good jockeys from all around the world, we are representing Hong Kong, and to be able to do that is a real privilege."

Runner-up Christophe Lemaire said, "For a moment I was in trouble in the final race but he came home great. We have had great fun tonight. This is a great series and it was a real thrill for me to be a part of it. I was delighted to win the race on Kenobe and I'm very grateful to the trainer (Andreas Schutz) for having the horse in such wonderful order."

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