[Sponsored Article] An emerging wave of talent will square off with Hong Kong’s elite at FWD Champions Day on Sunday, 24 April at Sha Tin, all vying for a share of the HK$65 million on offer across three stellar Group 1 contests. Headlining the entries is Golden Sixty who chases successive HK$20 million G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) wins, along with Russian Emperor, who is out to bolster his burgeoning record by capturing the HK$25 million G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) and Wellington, who seeks to defend the HK$20 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m). But there is no shortage of fresh blood rising to the challenge, with this season’s BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) hero Romantic Warrior lining up in the FWD QEII Cup, while California Spangle – second to Romantic Warrior in the BMW Hong Kong Derby – will aim to upstage Hong Kong’s Reigning Horse of The Year Golden Sixty in the FWD Champions Mile. Master Eight, winner of his first five starts, joins a gifted group of gallopers in an assault on the Chairman’s Sprint Prize, aiming to post his name alongside the likes of Silent Witness (2004), Sacred Kingdom (2008), Ivictory (2018) and Wellington (2021). The entries feature 34 horses in total, including nine individual Group 1 winners. FWD Queen Elizabeth II Cup Russian Emperor, Hong Kong’s leading stayer this season and winner of February’s G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) , meets Romantic Warrior in the HK$25 million G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m), with both looking to etch their name on an honour roll dating back to 1975. Romantic Warrior became the first Hong Kong International Sale graduate to win the BMW Hong Kong Derby and he will look to join Pakistan Star (2018) as the second graduate to reign in the FWD QEII Cup while aiming to equal Vengeance Of Rain (2005), Ambitious Dragon (2011), Designs On Rome (2014) and Werther (2016) as victors of Hong Kong Derby-QEII Cup double in the same season. Joining the duo is Panfield – Hong Kong’s Champion Stayer of last term – in a bid for a second top-level crown in town. Zebrowski, Savvy Nine and Butterfield are also among the entries. FWD Champions Mile Golden Sixty was arrogant winning the 2021 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) against an internationally acclaimed field and the son of Medaglia d’Oro will take his chance at consecutive HK$20 million G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) triumphs next month, looking to banish memories of consecutive defeats to Waikuku and Russian Emperor, respectively. California Spangle has emerged as one of Hong Kong’s rising stars with victories at 1000m, 1200m and 1800m, while last start he finished a brave second to Romantic Warrior in the Derby (2000m). The Irish-bred steps out of his age bracket and into Group 1 level for the first time against Golden Sixty, Hong Kong’s leading star and winner of 19 races. Waikuku halted Golden Sixty’s win-streak at 16 with his second successive win in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) in January and John Size’s crack miler will look to nail his fourth Group 1 win in the FWD Champions Mile, while More Than This – second to Golden Sixty last year in that pulsating finish – returns for unfinished business after again placing second to Golden Sixty in the 2021 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile. Cheerful Days has been one of this season’s success stories with six wins from 10 starts and Francis Lui’s charge will once again be asked to step up, taking aim at FWD Champions Day riches after his tilt on Sunday’s (3 April) HK$4.75 million G2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) at Sha Tin. Joining Waikuku for trainer John Size are Excellent Proposal and Champion’s Way, while Healthy Happy, Mighty Giant and Kings Shield also hold entries. Chairman’s Sprint Prize Last year’s winner Wellington improved his record with victory in February’s G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) and he tops the billing with a bid to become the third horse since Mr Vitality (1995 & 1996) to successfully defend the HK$20 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m), following Silent Witness (2004 & 2005) and Lucky Nine (2013 & 2014). Master Eight has gone from strength-to-strength for trainer Frankie Lor and will have his second chance at Group 1 level, looking to add his success in this year’s G3 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy Handicap (1000m). Group 1 winners Hot King Prawn – one of the circuit’s finest short-course gallopers in recent times – also features in a bid for a second top-level crown, as does Sky Field, winner of the 2021 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) and Stronger, who secured the 2022 G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) under Vincent Ho for Douglas Whyte. Lucky Patch – Francis Lui’s five-time winner – steadily emerged as a Group 1 winner in waiting after winning the G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m) and G2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) consecutively this season, and now, he gets his chance to nail a maiden top-level win as do Courier Wonder, Computer Patch, Lucky Express and Super Wealthy.