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Romantic Warrior pursues sixth Group 1 in Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup

February 23, 2024 at 3:47:53 AM

Champion galloper Romantic Warrior will aim to complete a sweep of Hong Kong’s 2000m Group 1 races on Sunday afternoon (25 February) at Sha Tin.

Champion galloper Romantic Warrior will aim to complete a sweep of Hong Kong’s 2000m Group 1 races on Sunday afternoon (25 February) at Sha Tin.

Engaged to run in the HK$13 million G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m), the five-time Group 1-winning Romantic Warrior finished second in this race last year to Golden Sixty and returns after a 77-day break in a bid to add to his victories in the G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) (2022 & 2023) and G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) (2022 & 2023).

“He’s very good. He’s happy, healthy and in good form. Hugh Bowman gave a very positive report to me (after his grass gallop on Tuesday, 20 February),” Shum said.

Vengeance Of Rain and Designs On Rome are the only horses since the turn of the century to win the trio of 2000m races at Sha Tin across their respective careers – the Hong Kong Cup, Hong Kong Gold Cup and QEII Cup.

Partnered in key workouts – including a barrier trial – recently by Hugh Bowman, Romantic Warrior’s other big-race wins include the 2023 G1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m), 2022 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) and 2022 Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m).

The 132-rating six-year-old will meet fellow BMW Hong Kong Derby champ Voyage Bubble for the first time. Straight Arron, Beauty Joy, Champion Dragon, Five G Patch, Nimble Nimbus, Senor Toba, Sword Point, Money Catcher and Encountered also feature.

“The pace in the race should be ok. I think he (Romantic Warrior) has a very good chance. Voyage Bubble and Straight Arron are the toughest opponents – it should be a good race,” Shum said.

Shum will target winning a third straight FWD QEII Cup with Romantic Warrior after the Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup – where familiar ally James McDonald returns to ride this weekend – before shipping to Japan for the G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) on 2 June at Tokyo.

“The QEII is next and then we’ll go to Japan,” Shum said.

Shum is plotting two trips to Japan in the coming months. Victor The Winner is being prepared for the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) on 24 March at Chukyo.

“He’s good and he’s happy. He can’t beat Lucky Sweynesse over 1400 metres. We’ll have two trips to Japan – March and June,” Shum said.

The pace-setting Victor The Winner recently made all to win the HK$13 million G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) at Sha Tin last month under jockey Derek Leung. The five-year-old is a seven-time winner with earnings of HK$19.74 million.

“He should travel ok. He’s a very quiet horse and he’s an easy horse. The Japanese horses always go very fast, so we’ll try to put him in a barrier trial and settle third, fourth and fifth to see how he can catch up without leading,” Shum said. “He’ll leave on the 11th of March for Japan.”

Aerovelocity is the only previous Hong Kong-trained horse to win the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, doing so in 2015 for jockey Zac Purton and former trainer Paul O’Sullivan.

Shum has a team of seven engaged at Sha Tin this Sunday, including Packing Prospect in the Class 4 Citigold Handicap (1200m).

“James (McDonald) likes this horse. But he had a setback, so we will see,” Shum said.

Shum also fields last-start winners Romantic Fantasy and Gorgeous Win, as well as Hickory Victory, Foremost Teddy and Eighteen Carat.

Sunday’s (25 February) 10-race fixture at Sha Tin commences at 1pm with the Class 4 Citi Global Wealth Handicap (2000m).

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