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Shum happy with Romantic Warrior’s LONGINES Hong Kong Cup draw

December 8, 2023 at 4:19:24 AM

A smile spread across the face of trainer Danny Shum and the connections of Romantic Warrior the instant the barrier draw was revealed for Sunday’s (10 December) G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).

A smile spread across the face of trainer Danny Shum and the connections of Romantic Warrior the instant the barrier draw was revealed for Sunday’s (10 December) G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).

Seven has been a particularly lucky number so far.

“Last year in the Hong Kong Cup we drew seven. Also in the Cox Plate, we drew seven.” said owner Peter Lau, who had picked the slot at random at the ceremony in Sha Tin’s parade ring.

Romantic Warrior has already been the horse of both Shum and Lau’s racing lives. A BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner and the jurisdiction’s four-year-old champion in 2022, he has locked horns with other greats of the modern era such as Golden Sixty and California Spangle.

His remarkable victory in last year’s LONGINES Hong Kong Cup is one that will live long in the memory as he demolished a classy international field by more than four lengths, so comfortably that jockey James McDonald could showboat before he had even reached the line.

The handsome bay gelding has also achieved something that even Hong Kong’s biggest equine celebrity, Golden Sixty, has not managed. His team’s laudable plan to campaign him overseas has seen his reputation spread far beyond the shores of the South China Sea.

They chose the long-term strategy of the G1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m), Australia’s keynote weight-for-age prize, and at the end of October Romantic Warrior would become the first horse from Hong Kong to win it, flying home with clinical timing from McDonald to lead on the line.

“To win it was great for myself, for Hong Kong racing and for the whole of Hong Kong,” Lau said at the draw ceremony on Thursday.

“I think it was like winning a gold medal in the Olympics, it lifted the morale of the whole country.”

Shum reports that Romantic Warrior has thrived since his trip overseas but his biggest concern is the standard of rivals in wait, with the likes of Irish ace Luxembourg, French rising star Horizon Dore and a formidable Japanese challenge headed by Prognosis and Rousham Park.

“It (the opposition) will be quite strong I think, very strong,” the trainer said.

“He’s been good. In the morning, that kind of horse is always good. But I think he’s still improving. He’s been great since Australia, no problem at all.”

Shum said that he would not make any decisions about further overseas campaigns until after Sunday’s race.

Lau, who co-founded the Japan Home Centre, a popular chain of homeware shops in Hong Kong, also seems to want to enjoy the ride, one step at a time, with the finest horse he has owned.

“We won this last year so now there’s even more pressure,” he said.

“In Australia I was as proud as I’ve been in all my life as an owner, it’s my greatest win so far.

“He’s only five, going to six. I think he’s still got some improvement in him, I certainly hope so.

“His form has been good since he came back, and the rider James gave a good comment about his condition so far. I’m very much looking forward to Sunday.”

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