More glory days for Whyte family

Honey Rider (Michael Coleman) holding on strongly to win the Gr. 3 Hawke's Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes today.

Honey Rider (Michael Coleman) holding on strongly to win the Gr. 3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes today.

Hastings breeder Charlie Whyte got another taste of the many big-race thrills once experienced by his grandfather when his Cambridge-trained filly Honey Rider won the Gr. 3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes at Hastings today.

Having just her third start, Honey Rider took her record to two wins and a second when she held out the fast-finishing Glass Slipper to take the first leg of the NZ Bloodstock Filly Of The Year series by three-quarters of a length.

The performance was reminiscent of her sound win on the course when making her debut last May as favourite on the strength of a win and a second at the trials. In her other raceday appearance she chased home Volpe Veloce (late scratched from today’s Gold Trail Stakes) in the Listed John Turkington Forestry Castletown Stakes at Wanganui last June.

Honey Rider was bred and is raced by Whyte in partnership with fellow Hastings breeder Andrew Lockyer and prepared by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.

Whyte is no stranger to big-race success, having also shared in the ownership of Pimms Time, who was trained at Hastings by Grant Cullen and Guy Lowry.

Pimms Time recorded one of her five wins at Hastings but the most memorable of her victories came at Te Rapa when beating O’Fille in the 2013 Gr. 2 Travis Stakes.

It’s a big thrill for Whyte to race such smart gallopers as Honey Rider and Pimms Time, but he has a long way to go to match the deeds of his grandfather, Bob Whyte, a leading owner and racing administrator who raced a host of topliners with the best being the unsound Black Rod and Topsy.

Black Rod won 15 races and was a regular competitor at the top level. As a three-year-old he won the 1972 Hawkes Bay Guineas and two seasons later he took the Hawke’s Bay Cup. His wins also included the Waikato Gold Cup, Century (Air NZ) Stakes at Ellerslie, and Thames Valley Stakes.

Topsy won 10 races and made her mark in the best company. She won the 1972 NZ Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes at Te Aroha, the Hastings Gold Cup, and was third behind Sailing Home and Game in the 1972 Waikato International Stakes and second to Sailing Home in the Gr. 1 Stars Travel Stakes at Tauranga.

Otaki trainer Clem Bowry lined Topsy and Black Rod up in the 1972 Gr. 3 Canterbury Gold Cup and provided Whyte with one of his greatest thrills as an owner when the pair landed the quinella with Topsy coming out on top.

Now four decades later Charlie Whyte is embarking on what promises to be an exciting journey with Honey Ride, who is the second foal of Southern Heights.

Southern Heights, a daughter of Align, was raced by Whyte and Lockyer and showed ability when winning two of her 13 starts and being placed on a further five occasions.

Southern Heights’ career was cut short through a bleeding attack and as a broodmare she has had mixed luck with her two foals. Whyte and Lockyer had the misfortune to lose Southern Heights’ first foal, a colt by boom sire Savabeel.

Whyte and Lockyer believed they had a smart one in Honey Rider, buoyed by reports from Baker and Forsman, and there was some confidence going into today’s Gold Trail Stakes.

“I was very confident coming into it, but then my confidence dropped five or 10 minutes before the start when I saw her break out in a sweat,” said Forsman. “She got away with it and got the job done.”

Honey Rider was ridden by Michael Coleman, who had won earlier in the day on stablemate Francaletta and fellow Cambridge galloper Oops Tommy (trained by Todd Mitchell). Coleman had also been aboard in Honey Rider’s debut win and had partnered the Pins filly in her two recent trials, the latest of which she won at Cambridge last week.

Coleman bounced Honey Rider out from her handy draw and settled her into fourth, a position held until the home turn. Honey Rider went up to challenge the pacemaker, Its Time For Magic with 200 metres to run then kicked ahead in good style.

“I was a little bit anxious getting her out and she was a bit unbalanced, but she won it well,” said Coleman. “She has given me a nice feel since I won here on her (as a two-year-old).”

It was a performance which has put Honey Rider on track for her major mission, the Gr. 1 NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas at Riccarton on November 12.

“The main thing is to get her down to Riccarton in good order,” said Forsman.

Fellow Cambridge fillies Bella Gioia and Indecision are also on track for the 1000 Guineas, judging by their performances for fourth and fifth respectively. Both got home strongly and will appreciate the 1600 metres of the fillies’ classic.