Romantic Warrior puts BMW Hong Kong Derby form to the test in FWD QEII Cup

Declan Schuster

21/04/2022 14:17

Romantic Warrior is one of Hong Kong’s most exciting horses.
Romantic Warrior is one of Hong Kong’s most exciting horses.

The Four-Year-Old Classic Series plays a vital role in the rejuvenation of Hong Kong’s talent pool and this Sunday (24 April) at Sha Tin Romantic Warrior is out to ratify his hype when he lines up in the HK$25 million G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin.

Victorious last out in the HK$24 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m), Romantic Warrior has soared to stardom with six wins from seven starts and HK$24.81 million in earnings but, nevertheless, this weekend’s acid test will paint a clearer picture as to where the bay and this season’s four-year-old crop currently sit in the pecking order among Hong Kong’s elite.

Trainer Danny Shum acknowledges the assignment Romantic Warrior faces against an assortment of the circuit’s best middle-distance performers.

“Stepping up to open age (and at Group 1 level) will be a big challenge for him, because he won the Derby and it was only against four-year-olds. Now, he’s against Russian Emperor who is very good over 2000 metres, so it’s a big challenge for him,” Shum said.

The Acclamation gelding breezed through a turf gallop on Tuesday (19 April) at Sha Tin under his work rider in 1m 21.7s (26.9, 29.2, 25.6) alongside stablemate and competitor on Sunday – Tourbillon Diamond.

“He galloped well, he’s happy, he’s healthy and he pulled up sound, scoped clean – everything is ok,” said Shum of the HK$4.8 million purchase out of the 2021 Hong Kong International Sale.

Romantic Warrior denies California Spangle in the BMW Hong Kong Derby.

Looking to cap one of the most exceptional first seasons in history with a seventh win at his eight outing, success on Sunday would see Romantic Warrior join Vengeance Of Rain (2005), Ambitious Dragon (2011), Designs On Rome (2014) and Werther (2016) as victors of the Hong Kong Derby-QEII Cup double in the same season.

“I do think he will run well – if he can run in the first three or four, I will be very happy,” Shum said. “I thought he was a good horse but I didn’t think this good.”

Romantic Warrior steps away from gate four against Russian Emperor, Panfield, Savvy Nine, Zebrowski, Columbus County, Reliable Team, Ka Ying Star, Tourbillon Diamond and Cheerful Days.

Shum expects Romantic Warrior to see out 2400m in the future after his expected final outing this season at Sha Tin’s HK$65 million showcase.

“It’s hard to tell but I think 1600 metres to 2000 should be ok, 2400 also, maybe next year we can try,” Shum said.

Karis Teetan rides again in three days’ time after successfully teaming with the bay for wins in the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) and BMW Hong Kong Derby.

Shum is also remaining hopeful of an improved run from Tourbillon Diamond after fading to ninth last time out in the G2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) behind Golden Sixty.

Tourbillon Diamond is a two-time winner in Hong Kong.
Tourbillon Diamond is a two-time winner in Hong Kong.

“He’s ok, I was a little bit disappointed with his last run but 2000 metres is a much better trip for him, we’ll give him the chance and hope he can finish well,” Shum said.

The five-year-old raced as Eric The Eel pre-import in Australia, placing third in the 2020 G1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick Racecourse.

This season, the Olympic Glory gelding has one win, saluting in the G3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse Handicap (1800m) in early November, 2021. Alexis Badel is engaged to ride again from gate two.

More Than This takes aim at Golden Sixty once more in the HK$20 million G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) after closing for sixth behind Hong Kong’s champion in the Chairman’s Trophy earlier this month.

“He’s always good but he’s getting a little bit older, so we’ll try our best and see how he goes,” Shum said.

The Dutch Art gelding has finished second behind Golden Sixty twice at Group 1 level in this race last year as well as the 2021 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m).

More Than This breaks from gate one this weekend.

Sunday’s (24 April) 11-race fixture at Sha Tin kicks off at 12.25pm with the Class 4 Oriental Express Handicap (1200m).

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