Russian Emperor extends his reign
HONG KONG Russian Emperor underlined elite staying prowess to join a select band of multiple winners of the HK$12 million (S$2.07 million) Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (28 May), as trainer Douglas Whyte exalted in another highlight of an extraordinary career.
Under a masterful ride by Hugh Bowman, Russian Emperor (9.3) denied the raging 1.2 favourite Romantic Warrior by a neck in a stirring battle.
He has etched his name alongside a string of greats – " space="1"such as River Verdon, Viva Pataca, Exultant, Indigenous, Oriental Express and Blazing Speed – to win the final Group 1 of the Hong Kong season at least twice since 1990.
Whyte, a 13-time champion jockey, snared his fourth Group 1 as a trainer and was clearly moved by the magnitude of his 2022 winner’s latest feat.
His regally bred gelding swept from fifth place at the turn to cut down Romantic Warrior (Zac Purton), who led from the start and came pressured by Money Catcher (Derek Leung) 800m out.
Russian Emperor got up to beat Romantic Warrior in 2min 26.87sec.
He has virtually clinched the champion stayer status for the second season in a row.
“He’s a superstar of my stable and he’s certainly given me one hell of a ride since he’s joined me,” said Whyte, referencing February’s successful sortie to the Middle East, where the son of champions Galileo and Atlantic Jewel won the Qatar Group 1 H.H. The Amir Trophy (2,400m).
“We’ve had our ups and downs but there’s been a lot more ups than downs.
“To travel with him and winning in Doha, and coming back now to repeat that effort on a firm track, you’ve just got to give it all to the horse.
“When he won in Doha, that was probably the highlight of my career, both as a jockey and a trainer, to go abroad and do that.
“The issues he has to deal with, and then you get a win out of him in a race today on a track that doesn’t suit him and it just takes you to another level.
“It’s certainly one of the better performances he’s done and one of the highlights of my career.“
Praising Bowman, Whyte said the Australian’s ride was “patience personified, really”.
“He’s a great jockey to have on a horse, especially in a big race like that. He makes a difference,” he added.
“They were getting cheap sectionals early, the favourite looked like he was just ambling along and dictating affairs.
“Hugh sussed that out and got rolling at the right time. He dug down deep and prevailed.
“It was a well-executed ride, a very heady ride. He put him to sleep and let things unfold and took advantage of that at the end.”
Jubilating in his second Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup triumph after Werther’s 2017 success, Bowman said: “I didn’t have a plan. he’s a mile and a half (2,400m) horse and the one trap I didn’t fall into was to be out there to beat Romantic Warrior because he’s a class horse.” – HKJC