Romantic Warrior clinches Hong Kong Classic Mile to remain unbeaten
Romantic Warrior has repaid Danny Shum’s eye for talent and owner Peter Lau’s faith with a brilliant win under Karis Teetan in the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (30 January) as the unvanquished Hong Kong International Sale Graduate added further lustre to an increasingly imposing record.
A son of Acclamation sourced for the Club by former Irish champion jockey Michael Kinane from the 2019 Tattersalls Sale, Romantic Warrior was bought by Mr Lau for HK$4.8 million in June, 2021. Success today against quality opponents took the gelding’s earnings to HK$10.4 million from just five starts.
Teetan capitalised fully on barrier one to sit just off the speed before angling out to overtake California Spangle, who was brave in attempting to lead virtually all of the way from gate 13. The Irishman was an encouraging third, while Turin Redsun swept home late in eye-catching fashion.
Shum traced a famous success directly back to the 2021 Hong Kong International Sale.
“First of all, I would like to thank the Hong Kong Jockey Club to put this horse in the International Sale. Mr Peter Lau, the owner, he trusted me because I really wanted to buy this horse,” the quietly-spoken horseman said.
“This horse is very easy to control and he’s got a big heart. When he hits the front, he likes to win. He’s not a big horse but he’s good enough. He’s happy and he’s healthy, so he performs very well.”
Subject to discussions with Mr Lau, Shum will target the second leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series – the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) on 27 February – as Teetan jubilated after inheriting the ride from Joao Moreira, who opted to ride Master Delight which finished 11th.
“He’s a lovely horse. He’s actually a really nice horse. He had the draw and I think it helped him,” the Mauritian said. “I just wanted to follow California Spangle and I knew he would take me into the race but when this horse got the clear run, he really let down and I think he’s got a very bright future.
“Man, the last 100 metres, when he got a clear run, he gave me a really good feel.”
Romantic Warrior has progressed through the rankings with stunning efficiency since debuting on 20 October, 2021, winning twice at Happy Valley before adding three successive victories at Sha Tin.
Luke Currie made the perfect start to his Hong Kong career with success on his first ride when the Australian triumphed on David Hayes-trained Miracle Victory in the Class 4 Tathong Channel Handicap (1200m).
“I spent the first three weeks sitting in quarantine and then the last two days have been a real whirlwind, I haven’t stopped so it’s great to get a winner on the board so soon,” Currie, 40, said.
Currie and compatriot Daniel Moor emerged from three weeks of hotel quarantine on Friday in preparation for today’s races.
Hayes said: “It’s a great start, isn’t it? He put the horse in a great spot. No matter what their reputation is, Hong Kong is a fresh start and they judge you on what you do. So, it’s really good for him (Currie) to showcase his riding and win his first race.
“This horse, we had to geld and we’ve waited all year and the owners have been very patient and I think he beat a pretty good field today – might be a horse to keep following.”
Hayes notched a race-to-race double when Trader cruised home under Jerry Chau in the Class 4 Tai Tam Bay Handicap (1200m, dirt).
“He’s been racing well all season – I think he’s had three placings and one win. He was good today because I knew that my old horse (Super Axiom) would lead – he’s the fastest horse in Hong Kong – and I told Jerry ‘Don’t panic if he’s three lengths in front because he sees a ghost at the last 50 metres’ – and he did.”
Alfred Chan grabbed the finale aboard the Caspar Fownes-trained Kurpany in the Class 2 Aldrich Bay Handicap (1200m, dirt), a victory which also gave Fownes a double after his triumph in the G3 Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m) with Zebrowski under Matthew Poon.
Alexis Badel ended January as he started the month – with a double – after combining with Benno Yung with Voyage Star to land the Class 4 Siu Sai Wan Handicap (1400m) before partnering Chris So’s Young Victory to victory in the Class 5 Shau Kei Wan Handicap (1400m).
John Size edged to within a win – 42-41 – of Frankie Lor in the trainers’ championship as Joao Moreira extended his lead over Zac Purton – 71-56 – in the jockeys’ contest after Leading Fortune prevailed in the Class 4 Sai Wan Ho Handicap (1600m).
The 11-time champion trainer continued his successful association with another Brazilian when Vagner Borges delivered on Crossford in the Class 3 Loves Only You Handicap (1600m). Moreira has provided 20 of Size’s wins for season; Borges is responsible for 12.
Runner-up in three of the first five races, Karis Teetan ended an exasperating run with success aboard Majestic Star in the Class 3 Chai Wan Handicap (1200m) for Danny Shum in what turned out to be a portent of greater things to come on the programme for the trainer and jockey.
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Thursday (3 February) with the Chinese New Year meeting featuring the Class 1 Chinese New Year Cup Handicap (1400m).