Douglas Whyte is willing to forgive Russian Emperor for a flat run in last Sunday’s Queen Mother Memorial Cup and will give his talented youngster every chance of lining up in the Group One Champions & Chater Cup later this month.
The Hong Kong Derby runner-up faded to finish seventh in the Group Three last weekend – a disappointing result after starting favourite – but the second-season trainer isn’t throwing the toys out of the cot.
The way the race panned out didn’t help the inexperienced Russian Emperor and Whyte believes he will take a lot out of it.
“I just think that a line should be put through the run,” he said.
Douglas Whyte sticks to the blueprint with Russian Emperor after skipping QE II Cup: ‘I want my horse for next season’
“The race was run at a very sedate tempo – the time is there for everyone to see. I think he was ridden upside down in that he faced the breeze for the first time over 2,400m. He never really let the bit go – he was travelling too well for too long.
“Alexis [Badel on Charity Fun] came around him at a crucial stage and he’s then gone three-wide. If you look at the race and watch it a couple of times, I think he’s run OK considering the circumstances. He’s only had a handful of runs.
“I’m happy to give him the benefit of the doubt. I think that race would’ve bullied him a little bit and put a lot of experience into him.”
Stepping up to the set-weights Group One on May 23 will be a challenge, but there are no stand-outs among the current crop so Whyte is happy to give Russian Emperor a chance.
“He had his first canter [on Thursday] and he’ll have an easy piece of work next week and I’ll make my final decision [then],” he said. “But at this stage he’s definitely going there.”
Hong Kong’s most exciting young horse Courier Wonder is also set to race at Sha Tin on May 23 with trainer John Size confirming he will step out in the Group Three Sha Tin Trophy (1,200m).
Courier Wonder has taken the city by storm this season, rattling off four straight wins by a combined 11 and three-quarter lengths.
The three-year-old son of Sacred Falls has all the makings of a genuine superstar – the way he easily handled a strong Class Two field last start only reiterates that – and Size is enjoying the ride.
“It’s been amazing. It doesn’t happen very often that you get your hands on a horse like that,” he said. “I’ll enjoy it while it’s there.”
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Looking ahead to next season, Size thinks it is unlikely he will be seduced by the lure of the HK$10 million Classic Mile in January, happy to stick to sprints instead.
“I’m not entertaining that at the moment. He might be a 1,200m specialist,” he said.
“I wouldn’t fiddle around with distances in that particular area because there are plenty of 1,200m races so there’s no need to experiment just yet.”