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Emperor Max in prime condition ahead of #ChampionsDay

9 Oct 2015

Ahead of his tilt at the QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes on #ChampionsDay, we get the latest on Singapore star Emperor Max.

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

Hutton flew over with Emperor Max, arriving at his temporary home in Newmarket, and will be overseeing the gelding’s preparations in advance of him becoming the first non-European runner at QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 17 October.

Max is doing absolutely fantastically, we couldn’t be happier with him. Stephen (Gray, trainer) arrived on Wednesday and thought that Max was looking as well as he has ever looked.

His temperament has changed since he arrived in Newmarket – he’s a lot more alert and his energy levels couldn’t be higher. He’s a very intelligent horse and he seems irritated to be in his box, he just wants to be outside and have a look around. It’s a whole new environment for him and he’s just loving it.

He’s eating and drinking everything and we are ecstatic with the way that he has been training – he’s doing that well that we wish the race could be tomorrow. He’s been going out on Newmarket Heath every morning and I’ve been taking him out for a little walk in the evenings too. We are now just trying to decide where to gallop him on Monday morning – it could be on the grass or on the Al Bahathri [an all-weather gallop].

He’s actually a big character but when he first came to Singapore [from Australia], Stephen and I were not impressed, we just stuck him down at the very end of the stable and gave him to an old man to take care of who is sweet and kind to horses. He was just very unassuming from day one – he didn’t stand out and half the time we didn’t know which box he was in. He always looked like a little barrel on legs, we always thought that he looked too fat.

I remember his first race for us. He stumbled on the way to the start, he’s so lazy, and I remember thinking to myself ‘this is not going to be pretty’. But the gates opened, I think he went to the front, and he just kept going. Stephen and I just looked at one another and went ‘wow!’.

He won his next two and although he was still totally unimpressive in the mornings we obviously moved his box up closer to the office, so that we could keep an eye on him. That ended up being a bad thing, as people started spoiling him and giving him treats and his weight can get out of control.

At this point I hadn’t ridden for quite a while and I thought that he might be a nice one to start back on – he could be a good horse. I rode him one morning and thought – ‘oh my god, he’s like a slug!’, although that suited me fine as I’d rather a lazy horse that one that was trying to kill me. Then I rode him his first gallop back after his third win and I was so unimpressed I’ve hardly ever sat on him again!

Lisa Allpress [the former champion jockey of New Zealand] was the first one to notice that when he’s about to race he’s transformed. He’s circling behind the stalls and he suddenly swells up and he’s like a completely different horse – I just don’t know how to explain it.

After race three everybody started to get excited and after race five we knew that we had a very special horse – one in a million.