Douglas Whyte concedes Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m) title holder Russian Emperor cannot beat Romantic Warrior “on normal terms” in the final Group One of the Hong Kong season on Sunday.

Russian Emperor won last term’s Champions & Chater Cup from Ka Ying Star after Romantic Warrior’s connections pulled the pin on his brilliant four-year-old campaign following his emphatic victory in the Group One QE II Cup (2,000m), a race in which Whyte’s stayer finished fifth, two and a half lengths adrift of the winner.

The main event on Sunday’s 11-race programme at Sha Tin is Romantic Warrior’s first test beyond 2,000m. However, Whyte does not think the 2,400m distance – a trip over which Russian Emperor has won twice – necessarily lessens the likelihood of Danny Shum Chap-shing’s “champion” adding to his trophy haul.

“The extra 400m isn’t going to do any harm to him. He’s the new kid on the block. He’s got a fantastic turn of foot. He’s a champion,” said Whyte of Romantic Warrior, who holds a 4-0 head-to-head lead over Russian Emperor in their series of three contests over 2,000m and one mile event spanning 12 months.

Asked if it was possible to make a case for Russian Emperor beating Romantic Warrior, whom he trails by seven pounds on international ratings (117 versus 124) and 13 pounds on domestic marks (117 versus 130), Whyte admitted: “On normal terms, you can’t.”

However, what would give Whyte cause for optimism is if the Sha Tin track is as wet on Sunday as it was when, on weights and measures, Russian Emperor outperformed his lighter-weighted opponents in the Group Three Queen Mother Memorial Cup (2,400m) earlier this month.

Russian Emperor carried the Queen Mother Memorial Cup top weight of 135 pounds and still crossed the line no more than two and three-quarter lengths behind Champions & Chater Cup contenders Straight Arron (18 pounds less), Natural Storm (19 pounds less), Columbus County (15 pounds less) and Five G Patch (20 pounds less), while he defeated Panfield (four pounds less) and Senor Toba (one pound less).

More than 35mm of rain fell on Queen Mother Memorial Cup Day. While the Hong Kong Observatory forecasts isolated showers for the city on Sunday, it rates the probability of significant precipitation as low.

Thirteen-time Hong Kong champion jockey Whyte, who rides Russian Emperor in his serious trackwork, cannot put a precise figure on how much the son of two guns, Galileo and Atlantic Jewel, improves when he strikes soft going but recognises the regally bred galloper is a different proposition on a rain-affected surface.

“It’s difficult to quantify, but I know the horse,” Whyte said. “I’ve ridden him on ground with ease in it in his gallops, and I can feel the difference.

“He stretches out further. He gets through it a lot more economically than other horses.”

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Hugh Bowman returns from suspension and retains the ride aboard Russian Emperor after steering him for the first time in the Queen Mother Memorial Cup three weeks ago.

The combination has drawn gate five in the nine-runner Champions & Chater Cup, with Romantic Warrior and Zac Purton assigned barrier eight.

Russian Emperor attempts to join River Verdon (1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994), Indigenous (1997 and 1998), Oriental Express (1999 and 2001), Viva Pataca (2006, 2007 and 2009), Blazing Speed (2014 and 2016) and Exultant (2019 and 2020) as multiple winners of the Champions & Chater Cup since the 1990s.