When the Ontrack Racing Hong Kong International tour touches down in December there’ll be one new trainer in town and one champion trainer firmly ensconced for years to come.
The Ontrack Tour takes in the International meeting in December and the Licensing Committee of the Hong Kong Jockey Club has granted a trainer’s licence to champion jockey Douglas Whyte for the 2019/2020 season.
With an unmatched record of 13 successive titles as Hong Kong champion jockey, more than 1800 local winners and success in almost all of the Club’s Group 1 races Whyte is one of the titans of Hong Kong’s world-class racing and is now set to open an exciting new chapter of his career.
Whyte’s final day of riding will be at the race meeting at Sha Tin on 10 February. He will then spend several months augmenting his skills by spending time with leading trainers around the world before returning to Hong Kong to establish his stable for the commencement of the new season.
The Licensing Committee also granted a trainer’s licence to Australian John Size for the 2019/2020 season and determined that he would remain eligible to continue to be licensed until the 2023/2024 racing season.
The Licensing Committee’s policy that elite-level trainers may be granted a licence beyond the age of 65 has been invoked in Size’s case.
Ontrack Tours Managing Director Grant Morgan said John Size’s reign as Hong Kong’s champion trainer is likely to continue for years to come.
“John Size is the benchmark for excellence in Hong Kong as he’s been the champion trainer in 10 of the 17 seasons he has been based there.
“Now he has teamed up with champion jockey Joao Moreira and it’s hard to imagine a more lethal combination in any jurisdiction around the world.
“Last Sunday they teamed up to win five races on the card , including the Group One sprint, and it’s not hard to see them repeating that sort of form on a regular basis.
“Ontrack has a special association with Joao Moreira as he’s unbeaten in four rides on our horses. He won three on Brazen Beau, including two Group Ones, and also won a Group Three on our great mare Savanna Amour.
“The Ontrack Racing party in Hong Kong has been fortunate to catch up with Joao on previous visits and look forward to renewing the friendship in 2019.
“It’s always a special time in Hong Kong around the International meeting and we have already had plenty of inquiries about our 2019 tour,” said Grant Morgan.
“Douglas Whyte is an extraordinary talent and it will be interesting to visit in December and observe him moving from highly successful jockey to highly successful trainer.
“This is only the second time in recent history that the Licensing Committee has issued a trainer’s licence to a current jockey, the first time being the licensing of champion jockey Tony Cruz for the 1996/1997 racing season.”
Ontrack’s New Zealand Horse and Wine Tour ended this week and the trip over the ditch proved an eye opener for everyone on the tour.
The six day tour takes in some of the best scenery and thoroughbred studs that New Zealand has to offer.
Ontrack’s Grant Morgan is used to watch tour members bedazzled by what New Zealand puts on show, but this year it was his turn to be amazed.
“This year was the first time in 13 years we went to the famous Cambridge Stud without Sir Patrick Hogan in charge.
“To be honest we were not sure what to expect, but the experience was truly jaw dropping.
“Our very good friend Henry Plumptre is now managing Cambridge Stud and, as always, Henry was a fantastic host but the new owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay proved to be amazing hosts.
“Brendan and Jo are in the middle of a mind boggling programme to reinvigorate Cambridge Stud
“They were able to find time in a busy schedule to host our party and their graciousness and sheer passion for the industry had everyone on the tour amazed.
“They also extended an invitation to visit a racing stable they have established at Karaka south of Auckland and that visit was simply breath takings.
“Brendan and Jo have turned a greenfield site into an absolutely incredible setup and with their private trainer Lance Noble they look poised to have a major impact on the racing and breeding industry in New Zealand and Australia.
“To be honest, heading to New Zealand we were wondering what the future looked like with the changing of the guard at Cambridge Stud.
“After spending time with Jo and Brendan and their team there’s no doubt that Cambridge Stud couldn’t be in better hands,” said Grant Morgan.
The 2019 Ontrack Hunter Valley Horse and Wine Tour will see first-hand the influence the ill-fated USA stallion Scat Daddy continues to have on world thoroughbred breeding.
Ontrack’s annual Hunter Valley tour runs from October 14-18 and as usual the powerhouse Coolmore Stud is one of six of the best studs on the programme.
This year Coolmore will parade two sons of its champion stallion Scat Daddy who died tragically in 2015 but continues to leave stakes winners around the world.
Scat Daddy shuttled to Coolmore’s Australian operation in 2008 and this year his sons No Nay Never and Caravaggio will stand there.
Ontrack Tours Grant Morgan said the influence Scat Daddy has had around the world is amazing.
“Scat Daddy made a solid start to his stud career and was the leading freshman sire of 2011 and third on the general two-year-old list, but it’s fair to say his career has gone to unbelievable levels following his death.
“Scat Daddy broke the North American record for the number of juvenile stakes winners in a season with nine. The previous record of eight had been set by his great-grandsire Storm Cat in 2002.
“At Royal Ascot in 2016, Scat Daddy had two winners from two runners, Caravaggio in the Coventry Stakes and Lady Aurelia in the Queen Mary Stakes and in 2017 at Royal Ascot he had Lady Aurelia win the King’s Stand, Caravaggio the Commonwealth Cup and Sioux Nation the Norfolk Stakes.
“Of course, this year his son Justify won the Triple Crown and it will be great to get to Coolmore and see his sons No Nay Never and Caravaggio.
“No Nay Never has made a great start to his Northern Hemisphere career with 16 first crop winners and is the leading European first season sire by winners and earnings.
“Caravaggio was an unbeaten Group One winner at two and followed that up with a dominant performance in Europe’s premier sprint for three-year-olds, the Group One Commonwealth Cup over 1200m at Royal Ascot.
“With No Nay Never and Caravaggio and Crown Winner American Pharoah returning, it’s clear Coolmore is giving Australian breeders access to three world-class shuttle stallions.
“It’s always a great time to get a first-hand look at such amazing stallions and the Coolmore operation,” said Grant Morgan”
December’s Hong Kong International Race Day may have its strongest Australian representation for several years.
Changed quarantine regulations following the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s new training centre in China has meant the Hong Kong fixture was not as popular for Australian horses as they now have to spend 180 days in a third country before returning to Australia.
However, that hasn’t stopped connections of two of Australia’s best sprinters pencilling in December’s $20 million HK Group One Longines Sprint over 1200 metres.
Newcastle trainer Ben Smith today announced that his classy mare In Her Time has been inoculated in readiness for travelling to Hong Kong for the big sprint.
Smith said In Her Time would run in The Everest at Randwick on October 13 and after that would have a light spring campaign in order to run in Hong Kong on December 9.
And Gerald Ryan trainer of another Everest runner Trapeze Artist has indicated that the horse’s owner and Ontrack Racing client Bert Vieira is keen to take on the Hong Kong race.
Vieira said the $13 million The Everest would be the first target before potentially taking on the world with trips to Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.
“His main aim in the spring is The Everest and, depending on quarantine issues, maybe he’ll go to Hong Kong in December," Vieira said.
“The aim would then be to take him to Royal Ascot next year, but it’s entirely up to the horse."
Ontrack Racing will be heading to the Hong Kong International carnival again in 2018 with our tour departing on December 4.