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Golden Sixty, Romantic Warrior, California Spangle, Dubai Honour highlight FWD Champions Day runners

April 11, 2024 at 5:00:15 AM

Golden Sixty, Romantic Warrior and California Spangle headline Hong Kong’s selected runners for FWD Champions Day at Sha Tin on 28 April when the decorated trio faces an imposing international continge

Golden Sixty, Romantic Warrior and California Spangle headline Hong Kong’s selected runners for FWD Champions Day at Sha Tin on 28 April when the decorated trio faces an imposing international contingent from Japan and Great Britain spearheaded by fellow Group 1 winners Dubai Honour, Mad Cool and Champagne Color.

Bidding for a record HK$72 million in prize money across the HK$28 million G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m), HK$22 million G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) and HK$22 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m), FWD Champions Day features 10 individual Group 1 winners among 35 selected runners.

Francis Lui’s Golden Sixty will chase a record-extending fourth FWD Champions Mile and an incredible 11th Group 1 – having claimed the FWD Champions Mile in 2021, 2022 & 2023 – in his first appearance since his extraordinary G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) romp in December.

His jockey Vincent Ho will strive for a remarkable fifth straight win in the race, having partnered Southern Legend to victory for Caspar Fownes in 2020.

With an unmatched HK$165.85 million in prize money and a record 26 wins, Golden Sixty will vie with Group 1 victors Voyage Bubble and Champagne Color, who will be joined by fellow Japanese aspirants Obamburumai and Elton Barows, as well as Great Britain’s Brave Emperor and Hong Kong’s Beauty Eternal, Beauty Joy, Galaxy Patch, Red Lion and Taj Dragon.

Danny Shum’s Romantic Warrior will bid for an historic third G1 FWD QEII Cup triumph against fellow Group 1 winners Dubai Honour, Russian Emperor and a string of quality Japanese entrants led by Prognosis, Hishi Iguazu and North Bridge.

Romantic Warrior, Japan’s Eishin Preston (2002 & 2003) and Hong Kong’s Viva Pataca (2007 & 2010) are the only horses to win the FWD QEII Cup twice since the race earned Group 1 status in 2001.

Romantic Warrior will contend with a host of familiar rivals at Sha Tin this month, including Russian Emperor, Straight Arron, Sword Point, Nimble Nimbus, Five G Patch and Happy Together as well as a new challenger in BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner Massive Sovereign who has been incredibly impressive in winning both his starts in Hong Kong.

Fresh from his G1 Al Quoz Sprint (1200m) triumph in Dubai on 30 March, Tony Cruz’s California Spangle will attempt to land a fourth elite victory when he contests the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize.

In the absence of last year’s winner Lucky Sweynesse, who is injured, California Spangle will meet three other Group 1 victors – Japan’s Mad Cool, Victor The Winner and Little Brose, who won the 2023 G1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) as a two-year-old but is yet to start in Hong Kong for David Hayes.

Great Britain’s Believing and Japan’s Sunrise Ronaldo bolster the international arsenal, while Hong Kong’s sprinting depth is evidenced by Lucky With You, Invincible Sage, Howdeepisyourlove, Duke Wai, Flying Ace and Mugen.

This year’s tally of expected international horses in Hong Kong is 11 – the highest since FWD Champions Day was consolidated into a single race day in 2018, surpassing last season’s haul of eight.

Mr Andrew Harding, Executive Director, Racing at The Hong Kong Jockey Club, said: “FWD Champions Day is one of the most prestigious meetings on the international racing stage and we are delighted to have such a strong group of world-class horses heading to Sha Tin for our spring flagship meeting. With eight visitors from Japan and three from Great Britain, including Group 1 winners Dubai Honour, Mad Cool and Champagne Color, the might of Hong Kong’s team will be tested in all three feature races.

“From Hong Kong’s perspective, we are extremely excited at the prospect of Golden Sixty and Romantic Warrior creating more history. The reappearance of California Spangle and Victor The Winner shapes as another highlight, along with exciting four-year-olds in BMW Hong Kong Derby winner Massive Sovereign and runner-up Galaxy Patch taking on our established stars in the QE II Cup and Champions Mile respectively. FWD Champions Day is established as one of the world’s foremost racing events and this year promises to be no exception.”

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