Aldo Domeyer is joint leader of the Hong Kong Championship after grabbing a double on the opening day of the season on Sunday at Sha Tin and although his winning rides were 95% superb, the one mistake he made landed him in hot water and he copped an 11 day ban.
Meanwhile, Douglas Whyte took just two races to get off the mark as a trainer.
Domeyer said at this time last year, “They say you need 10,000 hours before you start understanding your craft. I have been listening to my father (Andrew Fortune) for a long time and had been kind of getting it but also kind of not and last season everything just clicked. I think a lot of it is just trusting your instincts and listening to yourself. The last thing you want to be doing is questioning yourself. So now I am no longer thinking of the big names I’m riding against, I’m just riding against myself. It is all coming together and I know what I am doing.”
This showed yesterday in the first of his wins when bouncing his mount, California Gungho, out from a draw of eleven in the 1200m event and outpacing those on his inside before settling him one wide and one back. The rider of Bingo helped him by coming across to provide cover. He drove California Gungho into the lead and only drew the stick about 100m from home by which stage he had the race in safekeeping. The horse started at odds of 8,5/1.
In the next race over 1400m Domeyer was on the weak 5,6/1 favourite Sunshine Warrior and once again had him beautifully positioned, this time in about sixth place with cover and with enough room to stride out. Realising the pace had not been hot he peeled his mount out rounding the turn and charged for the line. Domeyer was driving his mount with a right hand whip and making some progress, but it was not fast enough, and he then pulled off a whip-hand change of incredible deftness. The horse duly changed legs and found another gear and powered to a three-quarters of a length win. Domeyer did make one mistake though. In putting his head down and driving for the line, he forgot to look where he was going and did not realise his mount was hanging in until it was too late. His mount interfered with the second and third-placed horses. It didn’t affect the result but he was charged with careless riding and will miss four meetings.
Both of Domeyer’s wins were for top trainer Tony Cruz, who about two decades ago put Felix Coetzee on the map in Hong Kong through some good horses including the legendary Silent Witness.
Douglas Whyte, started off his training career with a fourth place finish in the first race and won the second with 6,7/1 chance Adonis, who was ridden by young Australian jockey Regan Bayliss.
South African champion jockey Lyle Hewitson had five rides and his best finishes were 3rd on a 25/1 shot and 4th on a 12/1 chance.
By David Thiselton