Horse Racing
Russian Emperor primed for G1 FWD QEII Cup tilt

By Leo Schlink
20/04/2022 13:07

Russian Emperor steams clear in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup.
Russian Emperor steams clear in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup.

A pair of confidence-boosting track gallops has left Douglas Whyte confident Russian Emperor has fully recovered after a valiant last-start second to Golden Sixty and is now poised to assert staying superiority in the G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (24 April).

The imperiously-bred gelding was reported to have exhibited lameness in his nearside hind leg after finishing second to Golden Sixty in the G2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) at Sha Tin on 3 April.

Whyte, who rode Russian Emperor in work last week, says the five-year-old has rebounded well from the issue following his run earlier this month and pleased with his final turf gallop at Sha Tin on Tuesday (April 19).

“I was happy with the way that he went, he’s bounced back to the Russian Emperor we know and now he’s had his final turf gallop, that will be him done ahead of the race,” Whyte said after piloting his flagbearer over 1200m in a leisurely 1m 27s (31.7, 30.5, 24.8) with stablemate Turin Redsun as company.

“He feels good, he feels fresh, he feels back on track. He did pull up slightly off behind after his last run, but he’s over that and I’m just happy that he’s pulled through and he’s back on track.”

Douglas Whyte aboard Russian Emperor at Sha Tin.
Douglas Whyte aboard Russian Emperor at Sha Tin.

Savvy Nine leaves Whyte double-handed in the HK$25 million staying contest, which also features BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner Romantic Warrior and reigning Hong Kong Champion Stayer Panfield.

Placed in six of nine runs this preparation, including a gallant second to Russian Emperor in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m), Savvy Nine continues to thrive for Whyte.

“He’s flying. He’s in a rich vein of form at the moment and he’s loving life, loving Hong Kong and loving being competitive – he’s a bundle of health at the moment,” Whyte said.

While Whyte, with 26 wins so far for the season including two Group 1s, does not have a contender in the FWD Champions Mile (1600m), which is crowned by the presence of Golden Sixty, Waikuku and California Spangle, he fields Stronger in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).

The diminutive chestnut notched his first win at elite level with G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) success on 23 January, but failed to flatter when eighth to Wellington – once more the leading contender on Sunday – in the G2 Sprint Cup (1200m) at Sha Tin on 3 April.

“I was a little bit disappointed with his last run. I’ve watched the race a few times and there are probably a few reasons for that performance,” Whyte said. “But he’s an honest horse that thrives and he lets you know when there’s a problem and, thankfully, he hasn’t got any problems at the moment.

“I expect him to improve on his last run.”

Stronger worked over 800m on Monday (18 April) at Sha Tin on the turf, clocking 50.2s (26.3, 23.9) in preparation for the clash against fellow G1 victors Wellington, Hot King Prawn and Sky Field in the HK$20 million test.