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Russian Emperor fifth as Rebel’s Romance wins H.H. The Amir Trophy

February 20, 2024 at 4:14:37 AM

Russian Emperor could manage only fifth in his bid to win a second straight G3 H.H. The Amir Trophy (2400m) at Al Rayyan in Doha on Saturday afternoon (17 February).

Russian Emperor could manage only fifth in his bid to win a second straight G3 H.H. The Amir Trophy (2400m) at Al Rayyan in Doha on Saturday afternoon (17 February).

Trained by Douglas Whyte, Russian Emperor settled at the tail of the field from gate seven under jockey Alberto Sanna as Godolphin’s Rebel’s Romance ambled to an early lead before going to claim victory in Qatar’s most-famed thoroughbred race.

“It was a very brave effort. The winner was gifted the race, it was just a really slow tempo and it looked like an on-pace dominated track all day. He’s probably one of the only horses who has made ground from near last and he’s run home in good order,” Whyte said.

Taking over from North Bridge at the head of the field under jockey William Buick for trainer Charlie Appleby, Rebel’s Romance then let rip in the home straight as Russian Emperor – who returned with a cut on his right hind leg – began to make ground late.

“He got cut into, I’m not sure whereabouts that happened but it’s a significant cut, so that will have hindered him a little bit. It was pace orientated and that was the downfall to our winning chances. The horse has run well and I’ll go back and see him now – I’m proud of him,” Whyte said.

The winning time of the race was 2m 28.74s. Zeffiro – second in the 2023 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) – finished runner-up, while fellow Japanese raiders Satono Glanz and North Bridge grabbed third and fourth place, respectively.

“I’m happy to come and very happy with the horse. You go home with your tail between your legs and your tongue in your cheek really, it was a high beforehand and a bit of a low now but that’s racing for you in a nutshell. It’s a long way to come to have a race run like that and be disappointed but the horse has run well,” Whyte said.

Victory in the US$2.5 million (approx. HK$19.54 million) contest was the 11th for Rebel’s Romance, which includes success in the 2022 G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf (2400m) at Keeneland.

“He really enjoyed it. It wasn’t plan ‘A’ (to make all) but Charlie was very keen to go forward from stall 10. He relaxed lovely in front and it wasn’t so long ago he won a Breeders’ Cup Turf so he’s somewhere near back to his best, and it’s great to come to Qatar and to ride a winner,” Buick said.

Russian Emperor takes home US$100,000 (HK$782,215) for his effort today and will now target winning a third G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) at Sha Tin in May.

“He’ll go back to Hong Kong – that’s the plan. He’s run well today and he looks to be back on form, so the Champions & Chater Cup will be his go,” Whyte said.

Victorious aboard Russian Emperor last year in the race, Sanna concurred that an unsuitable tempo was the undoing of his mount.

“He ran a good race, but the pace was quite slow and we struggled a bit because we didn’t make the running. I was in a good spot but unfortunately it turned into a sprint,” Sanna said.

Jamie and Saffie Osborne continued a whirlwind 24 hours. The father-daughter combination scored at Meydan in Dubai last night (Friday, 16 February) with Ouzo before Emaraaty Ana bravely captured the QAT G3 Dukhan Sprint (1200m) in Qatar this afternoon.

Saffie made history by becoming the first female to ride a winner at Meydan. Emaraaty Ana was Jamie’s first runner at Al Rayyan and Saffie’s first ride at the course.

“He’s got so much ability this horse (Emaraaty Ana), I was able to get a breather into him around the bend and turning in he’s ultra-tough. I would ideally have been a bit further back, but he’s a really classy horse and I’m lucky to be onboard him,” she said.

Luke Morris jetted in for one ride and returned victorious as Brave Emperor roared clear to land the QAT G2 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup (1600m) for trainer Archie Watson, who is eyeing further success abroad with the four-year-old.

“He’s been an astonishing horse, he started off as a middle-of-the-road handicapper, and he’s just progressed and got better with every run,” Morris said.

Lukas Delozier steered veteran gelding Pazeer to win the Class 2 H.H. The Amir Shalfa (2000m).

Christophe Soumillon drove Molfit to victory in the Class 1 H.H. The Amir Silver Sword (1850m) for purebred Arabian horses. Soumillon landed a double when superstar Arabian horse Al Ghadeer claimed the G1 H.H. The Amir Sword (2400m).

The QAT G2 Al Rayyan Mile (1600m) was won by Oddyssey for jockey Maxime Guyon. AJS Jamran scooped the lucrative G1 Qatar International Cup (1600m) for purebred Arabian horses under an elated Szczepan Mazur.

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