South African Douglas Whyte earned points in all three races Wednesday night at Happy Valley Racecourse to become the first Hong Kong-based rider to win the International Jockeys' Championship.
The jockey's competition, held in a steady rain, was part of the festivities prior to the Hong Kong International Races on Sunday at Sha Tin Racecourse.
Whyte clinched the fifth annual event with a victory on favorite Danehill Warrior in the final race to finish with 19 points, five ahead of Austrian-born Andreas Suborics, representing Germany. Yutake Take of Japan was third with 12 points. Take won the first race of the night with Classa Win and Subronics, who is beginning a riding tour in Hong Kong, took the second with Bountiful.
Edgar Prado, representing the United States, finished 10th of the 12 riders from 11 nations, with two points.
Defending champion Frankie Detorri, the only two-time winner of the event, also had two points
The first-place prize was $200,000 (Hkn.), approximately $25,700 in U.S. dollars. Supronics earned $100,000 (Hkn), $12,850 U.S.
Whyte, 31, has ridden in Hong Kong for seven years and was the leading jockey the past two seasons. He won International Jockeys' Championship races on his first day following a seven-day suspension for careless riding.
"It's been a sweet reward, I must must say," Whyte said. "It's my first meeting back after a lengthy time out. I wasn't expecting such a good evening, but as they say, all good things do come to an end and I'm glad my suspension came to an end and good things have started."
Whyte was the only jockey to pick up points in each race. He finished fourth on his first mount, Super Combed, a 3-year-old New Zealand-bred maiden, in a race of approximately one mile and 50 yards. In the second race of the event, at a distance 1 1/8 miles,Whyte was third on Cherished, a New Zealand-bred gelded son of Mukaddamah. Danehill Warrior came from off the pace in the mile and 50-yard finale to beat Bobo Duck, ridden by Mick Kinane by a neck.
Prado had both of his first two mounts in good positions, but neither finished well. Latin Dancer was fifth in the first race, earning Prado his only points. De Integro faded to ninth in the second race and Round the World was 11th of 12 in the finale.
"Every time you're in a race, you have a chance to win it," Prado said. "During a competition you have a chance to do something. It was a good experience. When you're in these races, you try to learn to learn from the best. Today, there were a lot of good riders here and you're always learning something. I really liked being here to share it with a lot of different riders. It's good for the Thoroughbred industry. I hope more people get involved with this. It's going to help our business. That's what we need."
Prado will have another chance to earn some purse money Sunday when he rides Texas Glitter for trainer Todd Pletcher in the Hong Kong Sprint. "I don't want to go home empty-handed," he said.