Romantic Warrior Strikes 'Gold' In Epic Clash Of Derby Winners

Romantic Warrior makes history in the Gold Cup | HKJC photo


Romantic Warrior (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) became just the third horse since the turn of the century to capture each of the four 2000-metre features in Hong Kong, as he outbattled fellow BMW Hong Kong Derby winner Voyage Bubble (Aus) (Deep Field {Aus}) in an epic renewal of the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse Sunday afternoon.

The 6-year-old joins Vengeance of Rain (NZ) and Designs on Rome (Ire) as the only horses since 2000 to win the Derby, Gold Cup, G1 FWD QE II Cup and G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup.

It was anything but easy.

Making his first start since edging Luxembourg (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) for his second consecutive Hong Kong Cup some 77 days ago, Romantic Warrior was done no favors by Thursday's draw, leaving James McDonald to work some magic from the 11 hole with a short run to the first corner.

He was alertly away and the Kiwi, who famously rode him to victory in last year's G1 Cox Plate, immediately had a look to his left to see where he might be able to slot in. When Money Catcher (NZ) (Ferlax {NZ}) rolled forward, McDonald was able to secure some cover three wide from the second flight and by the time they made the backstretch run, Romantic Warrior had eased past Voyage Bubble and into a perfect spot from third, with Sword Point (Aus) (American Pharoah) at the head of affairs.

McDonald committed to an inside run around the second turn, while Zac Purton had Voyage Bubble on the back of Senor Toba (Aus) (Toronado {Ire}), ready to peel out to deliver his challenge when asked. Romantic Warrior was asked to take the gap between Money Catcher and Sword Point in upper stretch and did so willingly, but Voyage Bubble was right there and the stage was set for a thrilling climax. More or less stride for stride at the 200-metres, neither was willing to give an inch, but Romantic Warrior proved slightly tougher in the run to the wire. Nimble Nimbus (NZ) (Sacred Falls {NZ}) came from worse than midfield to snag third. McDonald has ridden Romantic Warrior in eight starts for seven wins, the only blemish a first-up fourth when prepping for the Cox Plate in the G1 Turnbull S. last October.

“He's the horse that does it all,” said McDonald. “He makes you look good all the time. His tenacity (and) will to win is phenomenal. I suppose instincts kicked in and (I) went with the flow. When you ride such good horses, you can do what you want to do and even if I made a little mistake during the race, he is probably good enough to overcome it and that was probably my mindset.

“I was mindful obviously that (Voyage Bubble) was having his second time at the 2000m and he (Purton) committed early – so it was a really good ride,” McDonald added. “My thinking was that I was going to be stronger late, so I just let him (Romantic Warrior) build through his gears under his own steam and he got there really easily.”

Trainer Danny Shum will now prepare Romantic Warrior for a three-peat attempt in the QE II Cup Apr. 28, with a trip to Japan for the G1 Yasuda Kinen looming an increasingly likely option. Voyage Bubble holds an entry for the G1 Dubai Turf Mar. 30 and could take up that engagement.

Pedigree Notes:

Romantic Warrior, a 300,000gns Tattersalls October grad and the most successful horse to emerge from the Hong Kong International Sale, is one of three winners from four to the races for his dam, a daughter of the English listed-winning and Group 3-placed, G2 Prix Jean Romanet and GI E. P. Taylor S. winner Folk Opera, who was purchased by Blandford Bloodstock carrying to Exceed and Excel (Aus) for €82,000 at the 2016 Goffs November Sale. The in-utero purchase, named Melodic Charm (Ire), was sold for 85,000gns at the 2018 Tattersalls October Sale and was a two-time winner at the races for Saeed Manana and James Tate before clearly benefitting from the success of Romantic Warrior when selling to the China Horse Club for 270,000gns in foal to Dark Angel (Ire) at last year's Tattersalls December Mares Sale.

Folk Melody is also the dam of the 3-year-old colt Operation Gimcrack (Ire) (Showcasing {GB}) and a yearling colt by the same stallion that was bought back for 110,000gns at last year's Tattersalls October Sale. Folk Star (GB) (Le Havre {Ire}), a David Simcock-trained half-sister to Folk Melody who won her maiden at Kempton Nov. 6 and was a narrowly beaten second in a Lingfield handicap Nov. 25, was knocked down to Kildaragh Stud for 37,000gns at the 2023 Tattersalls December Sale. Folk Melody is additionally the dam of a weanling colt by New Bay (GB) and the granddam of Spielman (GB) (Saxon Warrior {Jpn}), a maiden winner at Pau for Jean-Claude Rouget Feb. 4.




Sunday, Sha Tin, Hong Kong
CITI HONG KONG GOLD CUP-G1, HK$13,000,000, Sha Tin, 2-25, 3yo/up, 2000mT, 2:00.31, gd.
1–ROMANTIC WARRIOR (IRE), 126, g, 6, by Acclamation (GB)
1st Dam: Folk Melody (Ire), by Street Cry (Ire)
2nd Dam: Folk Opera (Ire), by Singspiel (Ire)
3rd Dam: Skiphall (GB), by Halling
(300,000gns Ylg '19 TATOCT; HK$4,800,000 HRA '21 HKJUN). O-Peter Lau Pak Fai; B-T J Rooney & Corduff Stud; T-Danny Shum; J-James McDonald; HK$7,280,000. Lifetime Record: Ch. 4yo, 2x. Ch. Middle Distance Horse-HK, G1SW-Aus, 18-13-3-0, HK$127,076,084. Werk Nick Rating: C+. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree or the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Voyage Bubble (Aus), 126, g, 5, Deep Field (Aus)–Raheights (Aus), by Rahy. (A$380,000 Ylg '20 INGFEB). O-Sunshine And Moonlight Syndicate; B-Torryburn Stud (NSW); T-Ricky Yiu; J-Zac Purton; HK$2,730,000.
3–Nimble Nimbus (NZ), 126, g, 6, Sacred Falls (NZ)–Marahau (NZ), by Pins (Aus). 1ST GROUP 1 BLACK-TYPE. (NZ$100,000 Ylg '19 NZBJAN). O-Jason Chan Kam Kwan; B-Waikato Stud Ltd; T-Ricky Yiu; J-Andrea Atzeni; HK$1,495,000.
Margins: NK, 3, 3/4. Odds: 65-100, 3-1, 23-1.
Also Ran: Straight Arron (Aus), Five G Patch (Ire), Beauty Joy (Aus), Encountered (Ire), Senor Toba (Aus), Sword Point (Aus), Champion Dragon (Ire), Money Catcher (NZ). Click for the HKJC chart, PPs and sectional timing.

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