“I feel we should forget Classic Emperor’s two races in Dubai,” So said on Monday morning (30 April). “I think the travel took a bit out of him, he was not used to his environment over there and the racing style proved too foreign for him – he didn’t know what to do when they went so quick early.
“He lost a bit of weight coming back and it took time for him to recover, but he has put that back on now and he is at a good body weight. His attitude is good and he looks bright in the stables. We just have to forget that Dubai ever happened, I think.”
Classic Emperor returned to Hong Kong in late March and has been in work at Sha Tin since the start of April. This included a barrier trial over 1200m on the dirt on 20 April, where the six-year-old was scrubbed along before finishing second to Class 5 galloper Rochford.
“The trial was not visually impressive, that’s for sure,” So said, “but he really needed it and I think he will have taken a lot of benefit from it. That certainly seems the case from how he has been since.
“I’m hopeful he will run a good race on Wednesday and, really, there’s no reason why he can’t win.”
Keith Yeung, who was on Classic Emperor’s back for both wins this season and also for his recent trial, will take the ride once again. The galloper has drawn gate four in a nine-horse field.
His first race back on Hong Kong soil is an open affair. In addition to Classic Emperor (131lb), who won by six and three-quarter lengths over the Sha Tin dirt 1650m in November, Beauty Prince (120lb), Calculation (119lb) and Divine Boy (115lb) have all been big-margin course and distance victors this term.
At the head of the weights is the Ricky Yiu-trained Packing Dragon (133lb). Jockey Chad Schofield, who won two races on the grey from three rides last season, will be atop the Mastercraftsman six-year-old for the first time this season.