Rebel's Romance a Standout in Champions and Chater

Rebel's Romance | Mathea Kelley

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Godolphin's globetrotting Rebel's Romance (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) should jump a white-hot favourite when he lines up against seven locally based gallopers in the final Group 1 on the annual Hong Kong racing calendar, the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup Sunday at Sha Tin Racecourse.

The 6-year-old is seeking to become the first overseas raider to take out the 2400-metre contest and the near $8-million earner enters the race in the best form of his career. A two-time Group 1 winner in Germany and victorious in the GI Breeders' Cup Turf in America in 2022, Rebel's Romance endured a difficult season last year when little seemed go in his favour, but suggested at a return to his better form with a visually impressive win in the Listed Wild Flower S. at Kempton in December. He made virtually all in annexing the G3 H H The Amir Trophy in Qatar this past February and exits a victory over world-class competition in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan Mar. 30.

“He's already a well-travelled horse but of course he's never been to Hong Kong before, so it will be a new experience for him,” jockey William Buick told South China Morning Post. “He's been super consistent. He's a 6-year-old now and dare I say it he's probably as good as ever.”

More rain has fallen in Hong Kong this week and was forecast to continue through the weekend, and that could enhance the chances of two-time defending champion Russian Emperor (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). The 7-year-old got just the better of local star Romantic Warrior (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) in a soft-ground renewal of the Champions & Chater last year, but is winless in six starts this term, including a fifth to Rebel's Romance in defense of his title in Doha in February and a latest seventh behind the re-opposing La City Blanche (Arg) (Cityscape {GB}) and Five G Patch (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) in a Group 3 prep over course and distance May 5.

“It's not going to inconvenience me or my horse. Let's hope it sticks around until the weekend,” said trainer Douglas Whyte referring to any precipitation. “He's been primed for this race. It's been well documented that this is the race that I have had in mind all year and he comes good this time of the year. If the rain sticks around it's going to enhance his chances but Rebel's Romance is a really good horse–the way he won in Dubai, he looks like a proper individual.”

Another former Aidan O'Brien runner, Massive Sovereign (Ire) (No Nay Never), took a thrilling renewal of the BMW Hong Kong Derby in March, but was a low-odds flop in rain-affected conditions in the G1 FWD QE II Cup a month ago.

“He's in very good form and hopefully the rain stays away for him,” trainer Dennis Yip told SCMP. “If the ground is rated good I think he will show everyone something. We are very happy with him. He's eating well and every day he is working perfectly.”

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