Romantic Warrior Front and Centre In Hong Kong Gold Cup

Romantic Warrior (left) winning the Hong Kong Cup | Horsephotos/Tomoya Moriuchi


Seven times has Romantic Warrior (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) gone to post over the 2000 metres at Sha Tin Racecourse and on six of those occasions, he has proved victorious, more times than not in convincing fashion. His lone blemish over the course and distance came in the 2023 G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup, when he was run down close home by multiple Horse of the Year Golden Sixty (Aus) (Medaglia d'Oro) as the odds-on pop, but barring something unforeseen, Romantic Warrior should be righting that wrong against 10 others in this year's Gold Cup Sunday afternoon.

It has been a carefully managed season thus far for Romantic Warrior, who likely was in need of the run when fourth in the G1 Turnbull S. in Melbourne before just prevailing in the G1 Cox Plate three weeks later. Despite a six-week turnaround and a period of quarantine once returning from Australia, Romantic Warrior outlasted the nails-tough Luxembourg (Ire) in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup Dec. 10.

A victory Sunday would complete the set of Hong Kong features over the mile and a quarter, which also includes the 2022 BMW Hong Kong Derby and last year's G1 FWD QE II Cup. He would join the likes of Vengeance of Rain (NZ) and Designs On Rome (Ire) should he do so.

“He's very good. He's happy, healthy and in good form. Hugh Bowman gave a very positive report to me,” said trainer Danny Shum following a Tuesday gallop on the grass. James McDonald will be in from Australia for the ride.

The Kiwi was aboard Voyage Bubble (Aus) (Deep Field {Aus}) when he registered a maiden Group 1 success in the Stewards' Cup going a mile Jan. 21 and stretches back out to 10 furlongs for the first time since causing a 45-1 upset in last year's Hong Kong Derby. A good performance could lead to an appearance in the G1 Dubai Turf (1800m) at Meydan in five weeks' time.

Straight Arron (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) took advantage of Romantic Warrior's absence to defeat Sword Point (Aus) (American Pharoah) in the G2 Jockey Club Cup in November and was a troubled fourth, beaten under a length, in the Hong Kong Cup. The 5-year-old returns to level weights after carrying 135 pounds to a third-place effort behind Nimble Nimbus (NZ) (Sacred Falls {NZ}) and Five G Patch (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) in the G3 Centenary Vase H. Feb. 4.

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