Russian Emperor: French Derby an option for Royal Ascot winner says owner

Horse Racing Russian Emperor First Receiver Royal Ascot
Russian Emperor (Ryan Moore) beats First Receiver in the G3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot. Photo: Racenews

By Jon Lees

Australia: The Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) remains an option for Russian Emperor, who became Ballydoyle’s leading contender for Investec Derby honours with his victory in the G3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot on Wednesday.

Part-owner Lauri Macri, former chairman of the Australian Turf Club, said it would be “an honour’ to have a runner in the Epsom Classic – but says he is likely to leave the decision to trainer Aidan O’Brien.

Macri owns a share in the three-year-old colt with the Coolmore partners, with whom he raced the multiple Australian G1-winning mare Atlantic Jewel, Russian Emperor’s dam.

Russian Emperor was cut to as low as 8-1 in the Derby betting when he beat the Queen’s First Receiver over a 1m2f, eight days after finishing second to stablemate Cormorant in the G3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown.

After watching the race at home in Australia Macri spoke to the RSN927 radio station. “I haven’t spoken with Aidan but I had an opportunity last night to speak with MV Magnier,” he said.

“Basically the plan hasn’t really changed,” Macri went on.  “So Russian Emperor holds an entry to the Irish Derby (June 27), holds an entry to the Epsom Derby (July 4) and basically back in May Aidan was always focussed on the Epsom Derby or the French Derby (July 5). I don’t think that has changed overnight.

“Aidan’s fond of saying ‘I have to speak to the lads’ and I think I am now one of the lads! Maybe I will get a call from Aidan asking my opinion where we should go. Common sense would suggest I just leave it to Aidan.

“The words were Epsom and French Derby. I will leave that to Aidan and John Magnier and Sue Magnier to work out the programme. It would be great to go to an Epsom Derby. What an honour.”

Horse Racing Ryan Moore Royal Ascot
Ryan Moore: secured 60th Royal Ascot win on Russian Emperor. Photo: Racenews

O’Brien, unable to attend Royal Ascot due to coronavirus restrictions, was not interviewed after the win.

However, winning jockey Ryan Moore said of the Derby: “He was very professional today and showed a good attitude. I think ten furlongs is fine really but he may get a little bit further.”

Macri suggested the way Russian Emperor finished the race gave hope he would stay 1m4f. “He really put his head down in the last 100m,” he said.

“It would appear that he would run the trip, albeit Ryan Moore maybe put a question mark around whether the 2,400m, or the mile and a half, is his best distance. I am sure Aidan will take feedback from Ryan and others and make a decision.”

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