Romantic Warrior sharpens up for FWD QEII Cup with strong trial

Leo Schlink

11/04/2023 11:35

Romantic Warrior cruises under Zac Purton.
Romantic Warrior cruises under Zac Purton.

Bidding to become the first horse in two decades to win successive HK$25 million G1 FWD QEII Cups (2000m), Romantic Warrior limbered up for his title defence on 30 April with an effortless trial victory at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning (11 April).

Partnered by Zac Purton, Romantic Warrior jumped cleanly from barrier 10 in the 1600m grass trial before taking up a forward position and gradually building momentum before forging clear in the straight, downing fellow Group 1 winner Panfield by five and a half lengths in 1m 36.16s.

Beaten into second place at each of his past two starts by Golden Sixty in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) on 29 January and then the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) on 26 February, Romantic Warrior was given a break by trainer Danny Shum to rejuvenate.

Shum was pleased with Romantic Warrior’s willing display this morning ahead of the 30 April showcase.

“It was a good trial. The horse is good. Last start, he was a little bit tired so I gave him some time off – seven weeks off – which did him good. He recovered quickly and he is good now, fingers crossed,” Shum said.

Attempting to emulate Japan’s Eishin Preston (2002 and 2003) consecutive QEII Cup triumphs, Romantic Warrior will be ridden by James McDonald in the FWD QEII Cup before Purton takes over in the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) on 28 May.

The Hong Kong International Sale Graduate swept to victory in last year’s FWD QEII Cup under Karis Teetan, defeating Tourbillon Diamond and Panfield to complete a wondrous first season with seven wins from eight starts.

Zac Purton was impressed with Romantic Warrior.
Zac Purton was impressed with Romantic Warrior.

Riding the 2022 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) and LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) winner for the first time in a trial since 8 November, Purton was impressed by Romantic Warrior.

“He felt fine there. I rode him in a trial earlier in the season and action was a little bit short and he wasn’t quite fit at the time, but he was a different horse this morning,” the five-time Hong Kong champion jockey said.

“He was moving a lot better and he trialled really well.”

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (12 April).

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