Douglas Whyte: Russian Emperor winning on Super Saturday would be ‘an absolute bonus’ | HK Racing

Douglas Whyte says “it’ll be an absolute bonus” if Russian Emperor follows up his groundbreaking Qatar win two weeks ago with an elite-level victory in the United Arab Emirates on Super Saturday at Meydan.

Russian Emperor, who became the first Hong Kong-based galloper to triumph in Qatar when he won last month’s H.H. The Amir Trophy (2,400m), will take his place in an internationally recognised Group One race in the UAE this weekend, the Jebel Hatta (1,800m).

However, Russian Emperor has not won over a distance shorter than 2,000m since he shed his maiden tag in a Naas mile event for three-year-olds three years ago, and Whyte is open about his star stayer’s primary objective being success in another Meydan contest, the Group One Dubai Sheema Classic (2,400m), which forms part of World Cup Night on March 25.

“I don’t envisage him winning this race,” Whyte told the Post from Dubai. “If he does, it’ll be an absolute bonus because my goal is the Sheema Classic.”

“In this particular race, obviously, we’ve got Real World to contend with. He looks the main danger but I’m just happy my horse is in the race. He’s got barrier three. I can see him settling, probably, worse than midfield. Hopefully, he can work home and run a creditable race for Hong Kong, and then we’ll be on song for World Cup night.”

Thirteen-time Hong Kong champion jockey Whyte, who rolls back the years to ride Russian Emperor in his trackwork gallops, knows the six-year-old son of two champions, Galileo and Atlantic Jewel, like the back of his hand. He thinks the two-time Group One winner was not himself earlier this week, but he believes the globetrotting galloper is feeling good again.

“When he arrived, he looked to be like he was a little bit flat. Obviously, the timing of his travel took a toll, but he’s perked up now,” Whyte said.

“I sat on him on Wednesday morning. He felt good. He felt good in his action – lively – and he’s been eating well. I gave him a little bit of a pipe opener on Thursday. It was nothing serious – he’s done all of his preparation. He’s a fit horse.

“I wouldn’t normally back him up in two weeks, but this race presented itself. It’s a good opportunity for him to see the track, which is left handed. He can have a nice lesson and education.”

Russian Emperor has not raced on a left-handed course since he finished seventh in the 2020 Group One Epsom Derby – the classic in which 15 of the world’s leading jockeys gave Emmet McNamara-ridden Serpentine far too much of a head start – and he faces 14 opponents in the Jebel Hatta.

Defending Jebel Hatta champion Alfareeq returns to the scene of his finest hour, while Real World goes in search of his first Group One win after beating all bar Baaeed in a couple of major races last year. Real World was equal eighth in the 2022 World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, his rating of 124 putting him on the same mark as Golden Sixty and Romantic Warrior.

Russian Emperor’s triumph groundbreaking for Hong Kong and emotional for Sanna

Russian Emperor is one of two Hong Kong-based gallopers competing on Super Saturday. Caspar Fownes’ Senor Toba, who was seventh behind Russian Emperor in Qatar last time out, tackles the Group Two Dubai City Of Gold (2,400m), with Alberto Sanna partnering both of Hong Kong’s overseas representatives.

The scratching of last-start Group One Breeders’ Cup Turf (2,400m) hero Rebel’s Romance, who is unbeaten on grass and rated 122 following five wins in a row, means Senor Toba boasts the highest rating of the Dubai City Of Gold’s remaining 14 competitors.

Dubai is four hours behind Hong Kong, so the Dubai City Of Gold is scheduled to get under way at 8.05pm on Saturday, while the Jebel Hatta is programmed to begin at 11.45pm. Both races feature in the Jockey Club’s simulcast of the Super Saturday meeting.


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