Douglas Whyte has done his homework ahead of his Caulfield Cup debut.
And now the champion jockey is hoping to add his name to the list of Hong Kong-based riders who have snared Australian Group One glory in recent years.
Whyte, winner of 13-straight Hong Kong premierships until losing the title to Zac Purton last season, had his first look around Caulfield on Friday when he walked the track in preparation to ride the Chris Waller-trained Junoob in Saturday’s $3 million feature.
While he has not been a frequent visitor to Australia for major races over the years, he is hoping this excursion opens more opportunities.
“If my name gets thrown in the hat, I’ll always put my hand up,” Whyte said.
“I’m a jock with a saddle and I’ll always travel. I’m very competitive still. Very, very competitive.
“Just because I’m in Hong Kong doesn’t necessarily mean that I wouldn’t put my hand up to come any time.”
Hong Kong-based Joao Moreira and Purton have both won Australian Group Ones this spring, and Purton rides Japanese galloper Admire Rakti in the Cup.
Whyte’s stroll around the track on race eve included analysing the starts and `the hill’ around the back of the course.
He said he had also watched a substantial amount of footage including past Cups and recent meetings but added it was one thing watching videos and another going around on a horse.
In Junoob, winner of his past two starts including the Group One Metropolitan (2400m) in Sydney, Whyte believe he is on a live chance.
“Chris Waller is flying and it’s a privilege to be on a horse for him,” he said.
“I’ve watched his last two runs, they have been very strong, dour efforts.
“I think his last run, in particular, was a fantastic effort.”
“He worked from 700 or 800 metres out and was three-deep and he stayed on tenaciously all the way to the line.”
The 42-year-old is armed with years of big race experience but at the other end of the spectrum, this year’s Cup has also presented 17-year-old apprentice Regan Bayliss with a remarkable opportunity with his booking for Renew.
With Japanese galloper Bande ruled out by Racing Victoria’s chief veterinarian Dr Brian Stewart because of a tendon issue, and the scratching of Dear Demi because of a throat infection, fourth emergency Renew gained a start.
The two race eve scratchings followed the withdrawals of Dandino and Gris Caro a day earlier.
Even though he is on an outsider, Bayliss can’t wait for the chance to ride in his first Group One race.
“Words can’t describe how privileged I am to be riding in the Caulfield Cup tomorrow,” Bayliss tweeted.