Seeking his first Hong Kong Derby (2000m) triumph, Karis Teetan believes impeccably-bred Russian Emperor is capable of delivering breakthrough success at Sha Tin on Sunday (21 March).
By Irish super sire Galileo out of champion Australian mare Atlantic Jewel, Russian Emperor charged to the line when second over 1800m in the Hong Kong Classic Cup behind Healthy Happy on 21 February, fuelling Teetan’s belief the Ascot Group 3 winner is ready to fire.
“I’m looking forward to the Derby this season, I would say this could be my best Derby ride since I got to Hong Kong,” the Mauritian said of Douglas Whyte’s charge. “I’m excited and looking forward to it.
“Of course, it’s going to be interesting for Douglas, too. For a new trainer to have a horse like that in the Derby is pretty interesting.
“Hopefully, we do well, his trial was good last week and so we’re looking forward to it.”
Teetan’s best Hong Kong Derby finish so far is eighth – a position attained by Thunder Fantasy (2015) and also Amazing Beats (2020).
Winner of the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes (1993m) at Ascot on 17 June, 2020, Russian Emperor improved significantly in the Hong Kong Classic Cup to emerge as one of the leading Derby contenders.
The gelding clocked a race-best 22.31s for the final 400m, sweeping from 10th to fail by a neck.
Like Teetan, Irishman Neil Callan harbours ambitions of success in Hong Kong’s coveted Classic aboard Packing Waltham.
“He trialled really nice, it was my first sit on him,” Callan said. “He’s a typical European, French horse.
“He’s not a horse you want to be bustling along early, so we’ll just let him find his feet. Once he balances himself up – he’s not a very big horse – and gets into his stride, he hits the line quite strong.
“So, I think the step up in trip is going to be a big plus for him. Obviously, it’s a very open race. There are horses rated higher than him, but I think he can maybe surprise a few. I do like the way he trialled.”
Matthew Chadwick, veteran of six previous Derby rides, partners Silver Express – one of three John Size entrants – and hopes the son of Canford Cliffs can stay the 2000m journey.
“He’s a nice, kind horse and if he can relax – and it’s against his own age group – it’s an unknown, but we’re hoping for the best,” Chadwick said.
“I’ve ridden in the Derby before but this time it’s a bit more special. There’s an important question mark against this horse’s name (in terms of stamina), but it looks like this is my best chance – that’s the way I’m seeing it.”