Brett Prebble celebrates winning his first KrisFlyer Sprint on Lucky Nine in 2013. ID 31192723 © Jordan Tan | Dreamstime.com

Prebble teams with Cruz, keen to ride for Whyte, as former star’s career comes full circle on return to Hong Kong .

Michael Cox

Michael Cox

For hutchishonkers.com

Michael Cox’s Derby Watch

In the lead-up to the 2020 Hong Kong Derby, Michael Cox will provide analysis for Hutchi’s Honkers as the next generation of stars builds up to the big race on March 20. The four-year-old series began with the Hong Kong Classic Mile on January 27, continued with the Hong Kong Classic Cup on February 23 and culminates with the Derby on March 22.

 

13.03.20

Brett Prebble can see his career coming full circle upon returning to Sha Tin to ride Private Secretary in the Hong Kong Derby and the ultra-competitive Aussie is certainly not just there to make up numbers.

Prebble is one of just five jockeys to ride more than 800 winners in Hong Kong – the others are Zac Purton, Joao Moreira, Douglas Whyte and Private Secretary’s trainer Tony Cruz.

“Tony gave me my first winner in Hong Kong so it would be quite fitting if I was to win the Derby for him,”

Prebble said of his first rides in Hong Kong since ending a successful 16-season tenure at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

Private Secretary isn’t considered among the leading chances for next Sunday’s feature but the import’s first-up win at Happy Valley in late December caught Prebble’s eye.

Cruz’s colt was disappointing second-up but Prebble saw enough in Private Secretary’s ninth in the Hong Kong Classic Cup, to take the ride.

“His first up win was very impressive, Tony has a big opinion of the horse, and I thought he had excuses last start,” he said, pointing to the colt’s form over 2000m and beyond as an edge.

“The horse has had a couple of wins at ten furlongs and then a win in a solid Listed race over 2200m. He will have no issues running the trip and you can’t say that about a lot of the horses in the Derby,” Prebble said.

“Often it is slowly run, so you can get sprinter-milers in the race and everybody getting them to switch off and relax. My horse can be up near the speed and I can ride him with confidence, knowing he will run it out.”

Not only was Prebble’s first win in Hong Kong for Cruz but has had great success in the distinctive red and black-striped silks of the Siu family – owners of Private Secretary.

“It will be great to pull those colours on again,” said Prebble, who won the 2010 Group 2 Jockey Club Cup on Irian for the Sius before finishing second to Snow Fairy on the same horse in that year’s Hong Kong Cup. “I have become very good friends with the family.”

One man who was famous for being Prebble’s foe is former champion jockey and now rookie trainer Douglas Whyte. The pair waged war through much of Prebble’s time in Hong Kong, with the Australian finishing second in the championship to his rival an astonishing six times during Whyte’s 13-season reign.

Douglas Whyte celebrating retiring from riding with his colleagues before becoming a HKJC licensed trainer. Photo by HKJC.

 

Now, with Whyte embarking on what looks like being a successful career as a trainer, the 42-year-old Prebble is keen to be legged aboard one of the South African’s runners on the Derby undercard.

“It will be a different feeling on that day, returning after more than 18 months away,” Prebble said.

“Last time I was there Douglas was still riding, so it would be pretty cool to be able to get a ride for him. I’ve been in touch and we are trying to make it happen.

I am not surprised he is doing so well. He was an impressive individual as a rider, he was a perfectionist and he had a huge work ethic, so he was always going to bring those attributes to training and be a success. I will go have a look at his stables when I am there and I am really looking forward to it.”

Prebble will forgo rides in Melbourne next weekend in favour of an early arrival in Hong Kong, which could be important if travel becomes restricted because of complications caused by Covid-19.

“I will probably arrive on the Thursday before the race, it is all about being in peak fitness and well-rested for the big race,” he said.

 

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