THE rise of Douglas Whyte among Hong Kong’s training ranks encompassed yet another milestone at Sha Tin last Sunday, as jockey Blake Shinn and Russian Emperor led home a one-two finish for the handler in the HK$12 million Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup over a mile and two furlongs.
Blake Shinn delivered arguably one of the performances of the season aboard Russian Emperor, confidently saving ground aboard the five-year-old before steering him to his first win in Hong Kong.
Stepping away cleanly from gate nine, Blake Shinn angled Russian Emperor to the rear of the field, settling on the fence, side-by-side with Golden Sixty.
Upon turning for home, the Melbourne Cup-winning rider peeled his mount out before kicking clear to a comfortable four-and-a-quarter-length success.
“It’s very satisfying, this horse deserves it more than anything but more so the owners. They have been so patient and they’re very good friends of mine and they deserve it – they really do.
“The horse has just bounced back from the International Races and he reproduced that in the mile (Stewards’ Cup) and he’s come out today and done what I expected him to do. The rain has helped but, in saying that, he still had to win and he’s just done that,” Whyte said.
Savvy Nine took second for Whyte – while Golden Sixty, failed to find his customary finish and could only take third under Vincent Ho.
Winner of the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2020, Russian Emperor is by Galileo out of top-class Australian mare Atlantic Jewel.
Whyte said: “He’s (Golden Sixty) a beautifully balanced horse with a lovely, fluid action so he might not have got through this ground. When there’s that heavy rain, it runs right through the track and drains. This light rain makes a difference and Russian Emperor was there to lap it up.”
Shinn said: “He was always going to be a good horse but he was always ‘jarry’ and always feeling the tracks, even after a gallop he would feel the tracks and only now he’s acclimatised and the more time you seem to give him, the better he gets.
“I really believed that this was our opportunity, all the stars aligned today with the rain and everything just went to plan.”
Whyte revealed: “In the parade ring, he (Blake Shinn) said to me ‘Do you mind if I ride the rail?’ And I said ‘You did that last time, you cut the corner and went in. Why would you do anything different? If you’ve got the horse underneath you, don’t come out?
“It was the winning move. When you’re riding with this kind of confidence in these kind of races, that’s what you want. The ride made the difference.”
Golden Sixty defeated again
PERSISTANT rain and a deteriorating surface were the catalysts for Golden Sixty’s downfall, according to jockey Vincent Ho.
“The conditions, for sure, played a part and the others just saved up all the ground,” he said.
Settling in his customary position at the tail of the field, Golden Sixty peeled wide on the turn but failed to make any inroads on the winner.
In a return to form, Wellington has clinched a second Group 1 triumph with rousing victory in the other top-grade race, the HK$12 million Group 1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup over seven furlongs.
Wellington reprised his best for Richard Gibson and Alexis Badel with a devastating finish to eclipse Ka Ying Star and Waikuku by three-quarters of a length with race favourite Waikuku – who could not gain clear running until late before sprinting sharply when finally clear – a further neck away in third.
“I’m obviously pleased for the horse, just had an irritating start to the season for him. We were lucky to have a horse after the Hong Kong Sprint and all the misfortune that happened to those horses,” Gibson said, referring to the accident-marred feature in December where he finished seventh after being inferred with by fallers.