Douglas Whyte is confident Russian Emperor is “in as good a form as when he won the Gold Cup” as he looks to add more Group One silverware to his mantel in Sunday’s QE II Cup (2,000m) on FWD Champions Day at Sha Tin.
Russian Emperor was found to be lame the day after his runner-up finish in the Group Two Chairman’s Trophy (1,600m) earlier this month but things are all systems go for the son of Galileo.
“He pulled up a bit sore behind, it was nothing of any significance. I was concerned to start with but he went through all the necessary procedures so once that all came back negative, we found that he had tweaked a muscle – probably out of the gates,” Whyte said.
“We’ve been dealing with that accordingly, I’ve been on him pretty much every day since then and I’m happy with him.”
🏆 Hong Kong Gold Cup (G1)— 𝙒𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙𝙍𝙖𝙘𝙞𝙣𝙜 (@WorldRacing1) February 20, 2022
2000m, 12.000.000 HKD, for 5yo+
Russian Emperor (IRE)
(5G Galileo - Atlantic Jewel, by Fastnet Rock)
J : B. Shinn
T :D.J. Whyte
O : Mike Cheung Shun Ching
B : @coolmorestud
🥈Savvy Nine (Anodin)
🥉Golden Sixty (Medaglia D'oro) pic.twitter.com/DGUiEYMDOJ
Russian Emperor walked away from Thursday morning’s barrier draw with gate five, an alley jockey Blake Shinn described as “great”, and now all Whyte wants is some rain after his charge showed his very best on a yielding track in the Gold Cup.
“There’s between a 30 and 40 per cent chance of rain and let’s hope that percentage increases as the weekend gets closer,” he said.
It’s often a tactical battle early from the tricky Sha Tin 2,000m start and while Shinn still has some thinking to do, he can’t see himself changing much after assuming a position behind midfield in recent runs.
“We’ll analyse the field. I can’t say exactly how I’m going to ride him but I’ve ridden him pretty similarly his past couple of starts and I don’t think we’ll change too much. We’ll ride the race as we see it,” Shinn said.
🏆 Hong Kong Derby 2022— 𝙒𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙𝙍𝙖𝙘𝙞𝙣𝙜 (@WorldRacing1) March 20, 2022
2000m, 24.000.000 HKD, for 4yo
Romantic Warrior (IRE)
(4G Acclamation - Folk Melody, by Street Cry)
J : K. Teetan
T :C.-S. Shum
O : Peter Lau Pak Fai
B : Corduff Stud & TJ Rooneypic.twitter.com/rsdGIIAQm5
Drawn on the inside of Russian Emperor in gate four is Hong Kong Derby winner Romantic Warrior and Whyte considers the four-year-old the main danger.
“He’s done nothing wrong, he’s a Derby winner and he’s clearly a champion in the making and he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with,” Whyte said.
“However, it’s probably not the best formline from a Derby perspective going into the QE II Cup but I would say he’s going to be the main danger.”
Romantic Warrior will look to become the first galloper since Werther in 2016 to do the Derby-QE II Cup double in the same season and trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing is “really confident he can run a really good race”.
He's very, very good! 2021 Hong Kong International Sale graduate Romantic Warrior - handpicked by @MichaelJkinane - proved far too strong in the Hong Kong Classic Mile under @KarisTeetan. 🔥 #4YOSeries #HKracing pic.twitter.com/1Xg7BGeAtF— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 30, 2022
Karis Teetan again takes the reins after partnering Romantic Warrior through a near-flawless Classic Series campaign and the jockey expects to be able to give his mount an easy time of it early on.
“He’s got a nice draw so he’s just going to come out, he’s got some very natural gate speed so I can get him into a decent position,” the Mauritian said.
“Reliable Team is drawn one and he will put the speed on and Ka Ying Star is drawn outside, so those horses could pressure a little bit from the start but from my draw I know I won’t have to use him too much.
“I can save some petrol into the first turn, put him to sleep and let him give us his best in the straight.”
This ride from @zpurton... 🤯— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 27, 2022
California Spangle - all class in the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup! 🔥#4YOSeries | #HKracing pic.twitter.com/bZOB0snyWe
California Spangle finished runner-up to Romantic Warrior in the Derby and he jumps from barrier five as he attempts to upset Golden Sixty in the Group One Champions Mile, with jockey Zac Purton wary of the challenge Healthy Happy presents after being drawn on his immediate inside.
“He’s only ever been in front on the fence – that’s what he’s familiar with, that’s our preferred option but it makes it a little bit difficult with the other leader in the race drawn inside us, but we need to work that out,” Purton said.
Vincent Ho Chak-yiu produced a positive ride just off the speed from gate one to spear Golden Sixty back into the winner’s circle in the Chairman’s Trophy after back-to-back losses and expects to be in a similar position from gate two this weekend.
“We’ve got a good draw and obviously there should be two or three horses that will have some good pace. Draw two is perfect for us and we can just track up to them and run them down in the straight,” Ho said. “Wherever Golden Sixty is comfortable from the gate, we’re in good shape.”
The Chairman's Trophy (G2)— 𝙒𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙𝙍𝙖𝙘𝙞𝙣𝙜 (@WorldRacing1) April 3, 2022
1600m, 4.750.000 HKD, for 5yo+
Golden Sixty (AUS)
(6G Medaglia D'oro - Gaudeamus, by Distorted Humor)
J : C. Y. Ho
T : K.-W. Lui
O : Stanley Chan Ka Leung
B : Asco International Pty pic.twitter.com/JafPz27pkD
Three-time Group One winner Waikuku jumps from gate three under Vagner Borges, while More Than This has gate one.
Richard Gibson’s Wellington will take on the likes of Sky Field, Stronger and Hot King Prawn as he shoots for consecutive victories in the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1,200m) and jockey Alexis Badel is happy with gate nine for his charge, who thrives when able to unleash down the outside.
Gibson hoping to go two for two with Wellington and Cordyceps Six
“I think it’s a pretty good gate for Wellington. It will allow me to decide where I want to be – whether it’s midfield or a little bit worse based on the jump and based on the tempo in the race,” the Frenchman said.
“On the A course I believe it’s pretty straightforward, you can choose whatever you want to do and it looks like it’s going to be a normal tempo. I’ll be happy to keep him comfortable during the race and I’m pretty confident it’s a nice gate for him.”