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Romantic Warrior battles to historic third FWD QEII Cup success

April 29, 2024 at 4:46:58 AM

Romantic Warrior stunned James McDonald and once again lived up to his name as he produced a titanic late surge saw to land a record-breaking third FWD QEII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (28 April).


Romantic Warrior stunned James McDonald and once again lived up to his name as he produced a titanic late surge saw to land a record-breaking third FWD QEII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (28 April).

Peter Lau’s superstar clinched a seventh Group 1 in spectacular circumstances. He overcame a problematic trip instigated by stall ten, was forced to kick off a muddling pace which developed against him and was then pushed wide by several of his conspiring rivals around the home turn.

Despite this, the result eventually mirrored last year’s running, with Romantic Warrior holding off the gallant Mitsumasa Nakauchida-trained Prognosis to score by a neck and surpass Eishin Preston’s two victories in the race in 2002 and 2003.

The runner-up was manoeuvred into a threatening position by Yuga Kawada after breaking slowest and losing notable ground from the stalls, but he was soon engaged by Romantic Warrior towards his outside in the home straight and ultimately had to yield by a neck.

James McDonald was elated following Romantic Warrior’s win.
James McDonald was elated following Romantic Warrior’s win.
“I’m speechless – he’s awesome,” an emotional McDonald said. “He was beaten at the 600m, he just finds a way. It’s incredible. I dead-set didn’t have one thing go my way. I had ten riders dead-set against me and the horse. I just had no favours.

“He is incredible. There wasn’t one part of the race I was happy with, to be honest with you. Going out of the straight the first time, I was deep, but I was in a rhythm but not in a good spot.

“1000m from home, I was finally having a rest and one took off and at the 600m, he was off the bridle and struggling in the ground a tad and he just picks up. I’m just in disbelief.”

The same battling qualities which have seen Romantic Warrior establish himself as Hong Kong’s premier middle-distance horse were evidenced once again as he fought to another narrow success, adding to magnificent victories in the G1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) in October, G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) in December and G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) in February.

The six-year-old will now bid to enhance his sparkling record with another overseas engagement as Danny Shum is contemplating stepping back in trip to a mile for the G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Tokyo racecourse on 2 June if all goes well with the admirable six-year-old.

Danny Shum celebrates FWD QEII Cup success.
Danny Shum celebrates FWD QEII Cup success.
The trainer said: “Japan will be next, we want to go there but our first priority is to see how the horse is. When he came in, he seemed a bit tired. It wasn’t an easy run, James said make sure the horse is sound and then we’ll schedule him in.

“He ran a good race, he always tried and James did a good job. We all love this horse. He always tries his best. Today, no horses could lock him in – he just wouldn’t stop trying. James ran a good race not to rush him, keep him balanced and keep all his momentum.”

On a day when many horses – including the legendary Golden Sixty in the G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) – struggled to make inroads on the yielding Sha Tin turf, Romantic Warrior proved one of the exceptions for a historic success.

The front-running North Bridge finished third to round out the placings for Japan, while last year’s third, the British challenger Dubai Honour, could only finish seventh for William Haggas and Tom Marquand. The BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner Massive Sovereign was a further place behind.

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