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Romantic Warrior seeks FWD QEII Cup history before stiff Tokyo test

April 10, 2024 at 4:50:46 AM

Danny Shum has always been the adventurous type and the trainer has more ambitious plans already in motion for Romantic Warrior.

Danny Shum has always been the adventurous type and the trainer has more ambitious plans already in motion for Romantic Warrior.

Eyeing a third straight HK$28 million G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) win with his champion horse on FWD Champions Day (28 April) at Sha Tin, Shum will then test Romantic Warrior over Tokyo’s challenging turf course in the G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) on 2 June.

“Everyone wants a horse like him. It’s a dream – I’m so lucky I got him,” Shum said. “The plan is to go to the Yasuda Kinen – he is entered for the race already. The owner has a few connections through his company to Japan, so that’s the reason. He really wants to go and the horse is at his golden age (six). We will definitely go to Japan.”

Hong Kong has two previous Yasuda Kinen winners: Fairy King Prawn (2000) and Bullish Luck (2006). As assistant to Ivan Allan, Shum travelled Fairy King Prawn to Japan, where he rode him in trackwork, while Bullish Luck is the race’s most recent foreign winner.

Romantic Warrior won the FWD QEII Cup in 2022 and 2023. He is one of four horses to do so, along with Nazakat (1975 & 1977), Viva Pataca (2007 & 2010) and Eishin Preston (2002 & 2003). No horse has ever won the race three times since its inception in 1975.

Purchased by owner Peter Lau out of the Hong Kong International Sale, Romantic Warrior boasts HK$127.07 million in earnings as a 13-time winner. The six-time Group 1 triumphant stepped out for a barrier trial on the turf under Hugh Bowman at Sha Tin this morning (Tuesday, 9 April), clocking 1m 37.60s in first position for the mile hit-out.

“I’m happy with him. Hugh Bowman reported to me that he was happy. He blew a little after pulling up but Hugh said it was good work for him and that he was happy. It was a good pace, so we dropped him in behind before moving him out. The horse wanted to go,” Shum said.

James McDonald hops aboard Romantic Warrior in the FWD QEII Cup. They’ve won six races together, including the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) in 2022 and 2023 as well as the 2023 G1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley in Melbourne.

“It’s a strong field. There’s a lot of good horses from overseas and I’m lucky I have James, the horse is fit and 2000 metres is his best trip – I have confidence that he will run a very good race,” Shum said.

The likes of Dubai Honour and Prognosis are expected to contest the FWD QEII Cup.

Shum is also planning to travel stablemate Romantic Charm to Japan as a companion for Romantic Warrior, a method which proved successful in Australia.

“We have a lunch meeting with the JRA (Japanese Racing Association) on the 11th of April. So, we’ll see what we can do, hopefully I can bring Romantic Charm as well and hopefully he can have a race in Japan, I will try. He raced at Geelong (finishing fourth), so we’ll see and find out on the 11th,” Shum said.

Shum’s first overseas success as a trainer came at Royal Ascot in the 2012 G1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) with Little Bridge.

Bowman also partnered the Group 1-winning Little Brose this morning for David Hayes, crossing the line first in batch one at Sha Tin. The Australian rider has seven bookings at Happy Valley tomorrow night (Wednesday, 10 April), featuring Capital Legend for Caspar Fownes in the second section of the Class 4 Lavender Handicap (1650m).

“It was an excellent run (last start) and with a good draw (three) this time I think we can settle in a really comfortable position. The horse is racing very consistently and last start was a very strong performance. We should hopefully get a bit of a better run this time and an even pace will really play into our hands,” Bowman said.

Vincent Ho makes his long-awaited return to competition at Happy Valley, taking two rides after being sidelined since late-January due to injuries following a fall.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a while and I’m happy to be back. I have a couple of rides and on Sunday (14 April) I should have seven rides at Sha Tin. I’m fit enough, I’ve been working a lot and I’m happy with it,” Ho said.

The 33-year-old has 25 wins this campaign. He partners Noble Pursuit and Atomic Force at the city circuit, while this morning he took Golden Sixty out for a spin around the dirt course at Sha Tin, clocking 1m 24.8s (31.5, 27.7, 25.6).

Keith Yeung has three wins from the past four fixtures and he has six engagements at Happy Valley, including Green Laser in the Class 5 Flamingo Flower Handicap (2200m), confident he has the key to unlocking more success with the South African-bred.

“He always runs well since we noticed that he prefers to charge down the outside, even if you have to lose ground with him. We have to give him plenty of room – that’s the way he wants to race,” Yeung said.

Wednesday’s (10 April) nine-race fixture at Happy Valley commences at 6.40pm with the Class 5 Flamingo Flower Handicap (2200m).

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