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Behind the scenes with Singapore #ChampionsDay contender Emperor Max

6 Oct 2015

Peter Hutton, a London-born former jockey who now acts as assistant to Singapore trainer Stephen Gray, gives the latest on Singapore sprinting star Emperor Max.

Peter Hutton, a London-born former jockey who now acts as assistant to Singapore trainer Stephen Gray, gives the latest on Singapore sprinting star Emperor Max.

Hutton flew over with Emperor Max, arriving at his temporary home in Newmarket late on Saturday night, and will be overseeing the gelding’s preparations in advance of him becoming the first non-European runner at QIPCO British Champions Day when he contests the newly-upgraded QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes on Saturday 17 October. In the build-up to Champions Day, Hutton will be giving you his thoughts.

Emperor Max seems to have travelled really well and I am very happy with the look in his eye. The first morning here (Sunday) and his food was totally gone.

The journey was pretty simple really. I am quite experienced at flying with horses, having done it a lot around America and to South America and Saudi Arabia. Most horses fly pretty well and Max is a very laid back horse.

But it didn’t start well. We left Kranji Racecourse in Singapore at 5.30am on Saturday morning and Max completely lost the plot on the horse box on the way to the airport. He gets on a horse box next to never, so that took him out of his comfort zone, and there were no windows in the box and Max got very upset.

I was starting to panic and was thinking ‘this is going to be an absolute disaster’. Thankfully, Bridget, Stephen Gray’s wife, was able to calm him down by feeding him some hay. Once we were at the airport he was fine. The scariest part for the horse is getting them on the plane with the use of a lift, there is a lot of jolting, and that’s when horses typically get upset, but Max was pretty good.

Come fly with me! Singapore star EMPEROR MAX is bound for #ChampionsDay after jetting off this morning. pic.twitter.com/gWiCoANNBY

— Champions Series (@ChampionsSeries) October 3, 2015

It took 7 hours and 20 minutes to get to Abu Dhabi, we were refuelled there for two hours, and then it was another 7 hours and 40 minutes to Heathrow. Both the landings were pretty smooth and, although I was surprised to get separated from Max on arrival to go through customs – normally officials come to the plane with the paperwork – I was whisked through straight away, a bit like David Beckham.

On arrival my biggest concern was the temperature outside – we are coming from a tropical climate – but I was pleasantly surprised at how warm it was so I only put a light blanket on him.

I hadn’t slept at all at this point, and was out on my feet and hoping for a nap on the way to Newmarket. But Max was kind of cute and started whinnying every time I was out of his sight, so I stood with him for the whole of the two and a half hour journey.

We arrived in Newmarket at 10.30pm on Saturday [25 hours after they had left Kranji] – half an hour earlier than I expected.

To book your place at QIPCO British Champions Day 2015, head to the ticketing website.