Aidan O’Brien marshalls forces for LONGINES HKIR

Tom Peacock

06/12/2023 13:10

Aidan O’Brien is chasing a fourth LONGINES HKIR feature win.
Aidan O’Brien is chasing a fourth LONGINES HKIR feature win.

Aidan O’Brien is expecting a box-office encounter in Sunday’s (10 December) HK$36 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) as his Group 1 star Luxembourg tackles home-town hero Romantic Warrior.

The Irishman was one of those to suffer travel delays but made it in time to see his four LONGINES Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) challengers set foot on the Sha Tin all-weather course for a routine canter on Wednesday morning (6 December).

For Luxembourg, who has an G1 Irish Champion Stakes on his CV over 2000m and was only beaten by his exalted stablemate Auguste Rodin in the same race in September, it is a first experience outside Europe.

“He was second in the Irish Champion Stakes and then he had a foot bruise, this was a race we had our eye on with him,” O’Brien said.

“It’s going to be great, hopefully we have him right and well and hopefully we’ll be able to gauge those mile and a quarter races all over the world. We’re looking forward to it.”

Luxembourg limbering up for his clash with Romantic Warrior.
Luxembourg limbering up for his clash with Romantic Warrior.

Asked about taking on the defending champion and recent G1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) hero, O’Brien said: “He’s obviously a very good horse, Romantic Warrior, we totally respect every horse and he is very good.

“It’ll be interesting. I think it’ll be a nice race to watch and it’ll be an even-run mile and a quarter I’d imagine. Hopefully he’ll run well.”

O’Brien’s other high-profile ambassador is Warm Heart, bidding to provide him with a fourth HK$24 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m).

The three-year-old filly is an authentic star, narrowly denied a third straight top-level win in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (2000m) and expected to be suited by a step back up in trip. 

He confirmed that Ryan Moore is intending to make a very light 117lb, having been absent from the track for a couple of weeks after a fall in Japan.

“His first rides back after Japan are this evening but he seemed in good form,” O’Brien said. “He always got on very well with her and I think he’s looking forward to it.

“She has a nice weight pull, she’s well in and is a very consistent filly. It looks like she’s a little bit better maybe at a mile and a half, Rachel [Richardson] rides her out and she’s very happy with her. She looks very well.”

O’Brien also cast his eye over LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) runner Aesop’s Fables and Mile contender Cairo, who are likely to continue to operate in tight formation as a quartet in the rest of their exercise.

“They’ll keep doing a little bit more,” O’Brien said. “It’s Wednesday now and we’ll build it up.”

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