David Morgan

Chief Journalist


Douglas Whyte intends to give his recent Amir Trophy hero Russian Emperor a Super Saturday warm-up at Meydan next week, en route to his stated prime target, the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic at the end of March.

Russian Emperor was the trainer’s first overseas runner when he landed Qatar’s richest race at Doha last weekend and the Middle Eastern adventure is set to become a three-race campaign. The Super Saturday card on March 4 offers Whyte the chance to give his six-year-old valuable track experience: the G2 Dubai City of Gold is the same 2410m distance as the Dubai Sheema Classic and is the main lead-up to the big race; an alternative option would be the G2 Jebel Hatta over 1800m on the same card.

Whyte’s stable star left Qatar for Dubai on Wednesday, four days after he quickened from off the pace under Alberto Sanna and held off Godolphin’s Warren Point at Doha’s Al Rayyan racecourse.    

“Depending on how he travels, how he arrives, how he eats up, how he looks, we’ll head to Super Saturday and he’ll line up there,” Whyte told Asian Racing Report.

“I don’t like to run him two weeks later usually, but he’s thriving over there. He’s got a new lease to life and if he’s in that race in this kind of form, with a bit of luck, he might earn some prize money. But he also gets to see the track, he gets to go left-handed, it’s perfect in that regard.

“Then three weeks later it’s the main race, so instead of leaving me with a gap of five weeks from the Qatar race, it leaves me with three weeks into the Sheema Classic.”

Whyte was delighted with the condition of his blue-blooded gelding – by Galileo out of the champion Australian mare Atlantic Jewel – when he saw him in Qatar and was keen to acknowledge the efforts of his Olympic Stables team.

“I have to compliment Stephen O’Connor, my vet, because he flew with the horse: more so, he worked in Qatar for a while and he put the race on my radar, saying if the horse went he thought he’d be competitive. He was on the plane with him, he was a great help,” Whyte said.

“Without the staff, the vets, the whole team behind the scenes, it wouldn’t happen. Yes, I flew in and gave him his final gallop on the turf and did the trackwork but I wasn’t on the plane with him, I wasn’t there giving him his feed and his electrolytes; it was about getting him there and then I could arrive later and fine tune. But if I couldn’t get him there in the right form then it’s a waste of a trip, so these guys are a huge part of it.”

Russian Emperor will attempt to give Hong Kong its first victory in Dubai since Rich Tapestry won the G3 Al Shindagha Sprint for trainer Michael Chang in February 2016.