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Noble Desire chases back-to-back wins at Happy Valley

June 1, 2021, 8:33:22 AM

Douglas Whyte feels he has found the key to unlocking Noble Desire's future success as the gelding seeks back-to-back victories in the opening section of the Class 4 Morrison Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday evening (2 June).

Whyte attributes the five-year-breakthrough old's success last month to race experience and gear modifications, and he is confident in the Irish-bred galloper's capacity to take another step ahead.

“He's been pounding on the door for a while now, and he just needed to get his head in front at the proper time, which he did, but I believe he's just gotten better with each run.”

“He used to be fairly awkward and he would hang in there and get his head up, but racing has taken its toll on him and he's simply gotten better with each run,” Whyte said.

The son of Footstepsinthesand, purchased for HK$1.4 million at the 2019 Hong Kong International Sale (July), will race from gate 10 against 11 challengers, with Matthew Poon continuing the saddle.

“He appears to be running very consistently with it (shadow roll) on, and he's not as eager as he was with blinkers, so I'm hoping that's done the trick,” Whyte explained.

Noble Desire, who was assigned 121lb for tomorrow night's job, will drop to 119lb courtesy to Poon's local jockey allowance for freelance riders, which he will not have when he collects his 250th Hong Kong win.

“I'm going to have to leave it up to Matthew (Poon) again — the gates open and things unfold, he's not a horse you can be too tactical on, and he's definitely not a stop-and-start sort of horse.

“He needs to build up his momentum and get into a rhythm, so I'll leave it up to Matthew - he appears to be getting along extremely well with him, so I won't be modifying it too much,” Whyte said.

Since mid-2020, the 48-rater has shuttled to and from the Conghua Racecourse, which is located around 200 kilometers north of Hong Kong.

“I think there's a lot less pressure at Conghua, you get a horse like him that does a little bit too much in the mornings, but he seems to go up there and come back a different frame of mind horse, he has a lovely coat on him when he returns, and I think in general he's a happy horse up there,” Whyte explained.

Whyte has saddled 29 winners this season, increasing his record owing to a strong burst of form in early May, when he collected six victories from 19 horses spread across three race meetings.

Beauty Fit, the son of Ilovethiscity, won his maiden Hong Kong race last month under the management of John Size, and champion rider Zac Purton is confident about his chances.

“He's got that habit of wanting to hang in, but I think that's because he doesn't want to change his leg, he's on his tired leg, and because of that he naturally wants to get in a little bit, hopefully one day he can learn to do everything properly, and I'm sure he'll progress through the ratings a little bit more,” Purton explained.

After arriving from Australia as an undefeated import known as Barocha, the prolific Australian-bred got off to a winning start in Hong Kong at his fifth attempt and is seeking for a second win when he competes in tomorrow evening's Class 3 Hillier Handicap (1650m).

“It's up to him (where he settles in the run), he can be a bit funny in the gates, he can miss the start – I think going to Happy Valley for the first time under lights and being drawn towards the outside but while there isn't much of a crowd there is still a little bit more for him to look at so it's a little bit fraught with danger.

“But he did everything correctly last time, and if he can break clean, he might be able to settle in the first half of the field, which I believe is a nice position for him,” Purton added.

With 133lb allocated, the 76-rater steps out of gate 11 against 11 opponents.

“I believe the mile is a decent distance for him, but I don't see why he couldn't run a little bit longer if he begins doing everything correctly,” Purton said.

Wednesday's (2 June) nine-race card at Happy Valley gets underway at 6.45 p.m. with the Class 5 Wing Lok Handicap (1000m).