Douglas Whyte says he was not prepared to throw his blue blood Russian Emperor to the wolves against top-class Japanese raiders in last week’s Group One QE II Cup because he wants to ensure his longevity through next season.

Many questioned the lack of Derby horses in the Group One races on Champions Day, with only Healthy Happy backing up in the Champions Mile, but the champion jockey-turned-trainer says he was not going to be pressured into doing something he did not feel comfortable with.

The ex-Aidan O’Brien-trained four-year-old instead heads to Sunday’s Group Three Queen Mother Memorial Cup (2,400m) in what shapes as one of the best editions of the race in years.

Russian Emperor (middle) is beaten by Sky Darci (left) in the Hong Kong Derby last month.

Still stewing over his second placing in the Derby, Whyte leaned on experience from his riding days, saying he has seen too many good horses ruined by stepping up to open Group One company too quickly.

“Everybody was questioning me as to why I didn’t run in the QE II Cup and I have my reasons – I want my horse for next season,” a frank Whyte said.

“I have seen a lot of horses ruined by going from the Derby straight into the QE II. The smaller the field, the bigger the upset and that was seen there with the Japanese filly [Daring Tact] that got beaten.”

Michael Chang, Zac Purton celebrate milestones at Happy Valley

While Whyte fell short of his dream of Derby glory with his first runner in the race, he was not prepared to throw his blueprint out the window to try to make up for it.

“We were unlucky in the Derby – all credit to the winner – in the circumstances, Joao [Moreira] won the race [on Sky Darci],” he said.

“My horse is flying, he looks great, he’s working well and he needs a run – he is really on top of himself so he is in good order.

“In saying that, just because you ran second, you don’t go chasing another race in the QE II to try to make amends, I have seen too many failures and I have seen too many horses destroyed from it – I won’t allow it to happen to this horse.

“[The 2,400m] looks his go, I have injected that much speed in him – he was sitting third or fourth in a Derby cantering so breeding-wise and racing pattern-wise, it certainly looks his go but we won’t know until we find out.”

With Karis Teetan’s Derby ride attracting criticism from some, Whyte said owner Mike Cheung Shun-ching was adamant the Mauritian stayed in the saddle for Sunday’s HK$3.5 million contest.

“Karis rides him again, the owner has been very thorough – he is a gentlemen because a lot of people would have wanted to change jocks,” he said.

“We got onto the back of the second favourite [Shadow Hero] in the Derby and he never took us into the race, he died at the 600m.

Russian Emperor trials on the all-weather surface at Sha Tin last week.

“Who wouldn’t ride that race if you were a jockey? You’re following Shadow Hero so you think you’re sweet.”

After Japanese-trained horses took out the first four placings in the QE II Cup, Whyte said there was an obvious hole to be filled in the Hong Kong staying ranks.

The South African hopes Russian Emperor can put his hand up to fill the void if he comes through Sunday’s assignment in good order.

“I think there is a big hole to be filled among the sprinters and even more so the stayers,” he said. “You look at Courier Wonder and those types so they might fill the hole for the sprinters, but in the staying ranks it is few and far between.

“Time Warp is tired, Exultant looks like he needs a break, you go past that and where do you stand? If he can take the next step, he looks like he could be the new kid on the block.”

Whyte also has Big Fortune, Storm Warnings, Uncle Steve, Vincy, Goodmanship, Smart Wongchoy, More Than A Horse, Star Win, HK Dragon and Cheval Valiant racing on what is a monster day for the handler.