After entering the 2021 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) fold with a dashing second at 79/1 in last month’s Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), Russian Emperor – a son of Galileo – took another crucial step toward Hong Kong’s most prestigious race with a solid first-past-the-post effort in a barrier trial at Sha Tin this morning (Tuesday, 9 March).
The regally bred colt out of Australian star mare Atlantic Jewel rolled past the post in 1m 35.69s (1600m, turf) under the urgings of jockey Karis Teetan – much to the satisfaction of trainer Douglas Whyte – ahead of fellow Derby candidates Silver Express, Excellent Proposal, Packing Waltham and two-time Australian G1 winner Shadow Hero.
“He’s come on from his last run and that trial today will probably just top him off – he’s a big horse and he’s a colt still, so he’s going to need every ounce of work that I can give him.
“He’ll go home now and probably come on slightly from that trial – it’s all systems go from here on in,” Whyte said.
The high-profile Irish import, formerly under the care of Aidan O’Brien, finished seventh in the 2020 G1 Derby Stakes (2405m) at Epsom Downs and was a G3 winner at Ascot in the Hampton Court Stakes (1993m) prior to that, but was well beaten in both of his first two runs in Hong Kong before flashing into second behind Healthy Happy in the middle leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series.