Whyte’s Emperor Can Make A Strong Comeback

Sha Tin first due off @ 06h30 on Sunday

Acknowledging that Russian Emperor faces a formidable challenge in the HK$ 4,2 million Gr3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday, Douglas Whyte is hopeful the globe-trotting stayer can make a strong return to racing despite conceding significant weight to all his rivals.

Russian Emperor is a dual Hong Kong Champion Stayer (Pic – HKJC)

To be ridden by Hugh Bowman from barrier 11 in the 12-horse field, Russian Emperor will shoulder 135lb, while Money Catcher and Senor Toba will both carry 121lb, Five G Patch has 118lb and the remaining eight runners – Moments In Time, Running Glory, La City Blanche, Chill Chibi, Ka Ying Generation, Natural Storm, Unbelievable and Turin Mascot – have all been assigned 115lb.

Rated 117 and with three Hong Kong Group 1 victories to his credit, Russian Emperor has also won in Qatar for Whyte as well as in Ireland and England when trained by Aidan O’Brien before export to Hong Kong.

Now seven, Russian Emperor is being set for the Gr1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup – a race he was won for the past two years – after Whyte opted to bypass Sunday’s (28 April) Gr1 FWD QEII Cup at Sha Tin.

Douglas Whyte has 32 wins for the season (Pic – HKJC)

“Obviously, I made the decision not to run in the QEII Cup and to wait for the Queen Mother. It’s just a very similar programme to last year and then we go into the Champions & Chater Cup, which is perfect timing in three weeks’ time,” Whyte said.

“You would hope this weather would stick around for him. I would be smiling if this weather sticks around because he would benefit from that, but he has to carry a big weight.

“He’s fine, he’s a year older but health-wise and, in any other way, he’s probably on song.”

Russian Emperor has not raced since finishing 11th – beaten seven lengths – behind Beauty Joy and subsequent Gr1 FWD Champions Mile winner Beauty Eternal in the Gr2 Chairman’s Trophy at Sha Tin on 7 April.

Apart from Russian Emperor, Whyte will saddle three other runners at the weekend – Cheval Valiant, who will be ridden by Ellis Wong, Mister Dapper (Matthew Chadwick) and King Glorioso (Andrea Atzeni).

Ricky Yiu needs one more Hong Kong victory to reach the 1,000-win milestone (Pic – HKJC)

Perched on 999 Hong Kong wins, Ricky Yiu is hopeful joining one of Hong Kong racing’s most select groups on Sunday when the 2019/20 Hong Kong champion trainer starts Joyful Life, Multisuper, Chilli Baba, Midori Burly, Natural Storm, Smart City and Golden Artie.

Of Hong Kong’s active trainers, only 12-time champion John Size (1,536 wins), Tony Cruz (1,503) and Caspar Fownes (1,105) have posted 1,000 wins or more. John Moore holds the record with 1,735 wins.

Sha Tin’s 11-race card on Sunday starts with the Argonaut Plate for Griffins at 06h30.

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