Emperor returns ahead of G2 tilt, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Emperor returns ahead of G2 tilt

Kok’s Pacific Emperor out to show his hardy side in EW Barker Trophy next on April 21

Pacific Emperor is back from a five-week layoff, but, win, lose or draw, he has bigger fish to fry.

The son of Caravaggio is going for the four-year-old majors, including the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1,800m) on July 21, but he may well end up as a big-race staple at this final 2024 Singapore season.

After the Pacific Stable made the six-time winner their Group horse, they walk the talk, too.

Three of the 15 Kranji features on offer have been put astern thus far, and Pacific Emperor has ticked off all three, albeit without success.

After a closing third in the Group 3 New Year Cup (1,200m) on Jan 6, he had no luck in the Group 3 Fortune Bowl (1,400m), but still ran an eye-catching fourth.

A wide trip then brought him undone (eighth) in the Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1,600m) on March 9.

He has not raced since, but, within eight days of this comeback of sorts in the $100,000 Kranji Stakes A (1,100m) on April 13, he will delve straight back into his Group crusade – the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1,400m) on April 21.

“If he pulls up well this weekend, he’ll run again in the EW Barker Trophy next week,” said Kok.

“The owner (Pacific Stable’s Jimmy Poh) is keen to run him in all the big races, like the Kranji Mile, the Derby and also the lesser Group races – like the Barker.”

Taking the road less travelled – such as quick back-ups or sharp step-ups in trips – does not seem to faze the all-conquering Malaysian outfit, which brought up its personal best haul of five wins on April 6.

“Pacific Emperor ran in last year’s Singapore Gold Cup (2,000m) two weeks after the Merlion Trophy (1,200m) win. He lost (13th to Lim’s Kosciuszko), but it was a good test,” said Kok.

“He can handle both turf and Polytrack and different distances. This 1,100m on Polytrack is good for a first-up run.”

With four of his six wins over the Polytrack 1,200m, Kok is not worried about the 100m shortfall.

The small seven-horse field (after Ejaz was scratched) is not just a more traffic-free affair, but also comes with fewer rivals to beat.

However, Kok holds one of them in the highest regard, Ghalib.

The fellow four-year-old hopeful, to be ridden again by Manoel Nunes, his partner at all his five wins, clearly has the most upside.

He began campaigning only in August when Pacific Emperor was already mixing it with the best. But, his last two-from-two, especially the latest in elite company on Feb 17, enhance his CV.

“Ghalib will be our main danger. He’s a progressive horse who last won a Kranji Stakes A over that course and distance,” said Kok.

“He has drawn one, but we have also drawn well in two.”

The race was already billed as a two-horse race regardless of the luck of the draw – and even if their paths have not crossed before.

They did once in a barrier trial on April 4, drawn in identical gates.

Other than Jerlyn Seow riding Pacific Emperor, and giving way to Ruan Maia on April 13, it was like the race before the race.

The speedy duo paired off from the start, running the rest ragged.

They may not tear away the same way in a Kranji Stakes A. The three other trial runners, who ended up long gaps behind, had ratings about half theirs (50s v 90s).

Jockeys normally take it easy in a trial, even in the home straight, but that day, both Nunes and Seow stood their ground.

They did not go full throttle, but they had clearly been asked to give their mounts a squeeze given both were coming from a let-up.

Going neck-and-neck in the last 200m, they finished locked together at the line, with Pacific Emperor scoring by a head.

“Pacific Emperor won a nice trial last week,” said Kok.

“Maia galloped him on Tuesday (April 9). He said he was very happy with that workout.

“He’s fresh and fit, I think he’ll run well. But he’ll be even fitter for the EW Barker, and with only 50kg if Lim’s Kosciuszko runs.

“Maia will ride him 2kg over. 52kg is still a nice light weight.”