Douglas Whyte expects Blake Shinn will experience familiar sensations of power and quality when the Australian returns to Sha Tin on Sunday (November 20) to partner Russian Emperor in the HKD$5 million Group 2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m).
Shinn last season partnered Hong Kong's champion stayer to victory in the Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) and Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) before departing for Australia.
Pointing to Russian Emperor's performance trend of improving markedly at his second run each preparation and beyond, Whyte said: “The writing is on the wall – and I've said this numerous times that his second run of his campaign is usually really good and the third run is when he really excels.
“I sat on him on Tuesday (November 15) morning on the turf and he felt really good, his action was great, which is when he runs a good race – he'll be running a huge race but whatever he does, his main target is December.”
Russian Emperor resumed under Lyle Hewitson with a four and a half lengths 12th behind California Spangle in the Group 2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m) at Sha Tin on October 16. Shinn returns to the saddle on Sunday as Whyte looks to either the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) or Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) on December 11.
Russian Emperor starts from gate seven on Sunday.
Stablemate Savvy Nine is also on trial for a possible Group 1 assignment next month when he continues his preparation on Sunday from barrier six under Jye McNeil following his last-start fifth behind Money Catcher in the Group 3 Sa Sa Ladies' Purse Handicap (1800m) on November 6.
“I thought his last run was decent. He got knocked back and came out four and five wide and he was probably one of the only ones hitting the line. He's put two decent runs together this season, so he's going to the races fit and in good health,” Whyte said.
A 13-time Hong Kong champion jockey, Whyte believes Group 1-winning Stronger can improve on his recent form when he tackles the Group 2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) from barrier one under Vincent Ho.
Citing fitness gains, Whyte said the chestnut is building towards a strong showing.
“He's probably in as good a form as I've had him this season. He got away from me in the summer and he's still a colt and he's now back on track weight-wise and I think his trial with Vincent 11 days ago was very encouraging,” he said.
“He was about 30 pounds above his best weight and he's cut back substantially.”
Whyte will pit Turin Redsun against Golden Sixty and California Spangle in the Group 2 Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile (1600m) in the hope of qualifying the gelding for the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile (1600m) on December 11.
“It's a small field on Sunday and he's up against two of the best in Hong Kong. He's 30 pounds out of the weights but when you start getting to this calibre of horse, you can't really consider the ratings – you're there to see if you can make the Internationals or not,” Whyte said.
“That's what we've chosen to do. The owners are really keen to try and if he earns prize money, he's going to go up in the handicaps and that's the punishment you pay for running in a race like this.”
Turin Redsun begins from barrier two for Lyle Hewitson, while Golden Sixty has drawn gate six for Ho.
California Spangle has barrier three for Zac Purton.