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Douglas Whyte hopes Ivy is in a League of his own: ‘The penny has finally dropped’




Douglas Whyte hopes Ivy League can kick on in Wednesday night’s Class Three Fife Handicap (1,650m) at Happy Valley after the galloper recorded his first win in Hong Kong earlier this month.


Without a placed effort to his name from 11 starts in Hong Kong, Ivy League got off the mark over the extended mile at the city circuit on October 11, aided by a bold mid-race move from jockey Keagan de Melo.


The four-year-old has the advantage of gate one in Wednesday’s contest, and Whyte believes his speedster can continue his upwards trajectory.


“These northern hemisphere horses take a bit of time to settle in, but I think the penny has finally dropped with him,” Whyte said.


Ivy League made six pre-import appearances for Irish handler Aidan O’Brien, winning two races over a mile before failing to fire in last year’s Group One Irish 2000 Guineas (1,600m) and Group One Prix du Jockey Club (2,100m).


After arriving in Hong Kong in August last year, Ivy League started triple-figure odds in his first five starts and had dropped 16 points in the ratings before striking at Happy Valley.


“I’m looking forward to running him on Wednesday,” Whyte said. “He has been a bit wayward

and dumb, but he’s a big horse who’s taken time to adjust to Hong Kong.”


Among his opponents in Wednesday’s contest are last-start winner Outgate and the unexposed Chill Chibi, who makes his return up in grade.


Whyte saddles seven runners at the midweek meeting, with unbeaten Brazilian import Gameplayer Elite having his first run for the stable in the Class Three Hing Yip Handicap (1,200m).


“It will be good to see him go around the Valley. I think he may need his first race, but he’s a lovely horse going forward,” Whyte said.


After recording a 10-length win over 800m on debut at Taruma, Gameplayer Elite followed up with commanding victories over 1,000m at Cidade Jardim and 1,100m back to Taruma.


Since joining Whyte’s stable, Gameplayer Elite has been an eye-catcher in two Conghua barrier trials, one behind Group One Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) hero Wellington and the other recent Class Three winner Invincible Sage.


“He’s had two really promising trials,” Whyte said. “He did have a few complications, but he’s sound now, and I’m looking forward to it.”


Gameplayer Elite’s opponents on Wednesday include hat-trick seeker Lucky Archangel and last-start winner Denfield.


Sitting on seven wins from 85 runners this season, Whyte has Majestic Knight representing him in the Class Three Cheong Wan Handicap (1,000m). A seven-time placegetter in his past nine starts, Majestic Knight found only Heroic Master too strong on his latest outing, and Whyte expects another good showing from the galloper


“He’s been a model of consistency, and he gets seven pounds off his back now,” Whyte said. “The handicapper hasn’t missed him, and he’s kept creeping up consistently. I’ve opted for the seven pounds off with Angus [Chung Yik-lai] riding so let’s hope that does the trick.”


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