Doug Whyte’s Wishing For Rain

Gr1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup

Rain is at the top of trainer Douglas Whyte’s wish list and the Hong Kong Observatory has currently bestowed a favourable forecast upon him and stable star Russian Emperor.

Russian Emperor performs well in adverse weather conditions

Russian Emperor performs well in adverse conditions (Pic – HKJC)

Seeking a third straight HK$13 million Gr1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday, Russian Emperor thrives on wet tracks and is set to receive his preferred conditions with daily rainfall expected until early next week.

“The rain is not going to inconvenience me or my horse. Let’s hope it sticks around until the weekend,” Whyte said. “I sat on him on Tuesday for a turf gallop – he felt amazing, he strode out beautifully and he loved getting his toe in. It was a good piece of work and he’s on song.”

The Irish-bred son of Galileo famously won the 2022 Gr1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup on yielding ground over Golden Sixty. The two-time Hong Kong Champion Stayer (2021/22 & 2022/23) Russian Emperor clocked 1m 21.8s (30.2, 28.8, 22.8) on Tuesday.

“He’s been primed for this race. It’s been well documented that this is the race that I have had in mind all year and he comes good this time of the year. If the rain sticks around it’s going to enhance his chances, but Rebel’s Romance is a really good horse – the way he won in Dubai, he looks like a proper individual,” Whyte said.

Rebel’s Romance arrives in Hong Kong as the third international to contest the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup after Chemical Charge (2018) and Happy Grin (2019).

Five G Patch, La City Blanche, Straight Arron, Senor Toba, Moments In Time and Massive Sovereign also hold entries.

Russian Emperor – a seven-year-old – finished seventh earlier this month in the HK$4.2 million Gr3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap under jockey Hugh Bowman.

“I think he rolled into the race beautifully on the bend, he knocked up over the 150 metres, but he was entitled to with the preparation that he has had. He has that distance into his legs now and he’s stripped fitter, it’s three weeks between runs so the timing has worked out well,” Whyte said.

Russian Emperor has won three times in Hong Kong – each time at Group 1 level.

“He’s been the star of my yard and the making of my young career, as a trainer. He’s going to be very sadly missed when the day comes that he has to retire.

“He’s been like a kid to me, we’ve done a lot together. I’m pretty much the only one that’s ever galloped him – so we have a very tight bond,” Whyte said.

Since 1975, River Verdon (1991-1994) has the most wins in the race, while the only three-time victors are Super Win (1975-1977), Silver Lining (1978, 1979 & 1981) and Viva Pataca (2006, 2007 & 2009).

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