Next month’s Classic Mile continues to take shape and Romantic Warrior and Ima Single Man did more to press their claims with victories at Sha Tin on Saturday.
The HK$12 million feature is the first leg of the four-year-old series – always the priority for connections of talented gallopers in that age group – and both Romantic Warrior and Ima Single Man look worthy of spots in the field off the back of their recent efforts.
The former couldn’t have been more impressive in winning all three of his starts, the son of Acclamation easily accounting for his rivals in the Class Three Lukfook Jewellery F-Style Pt In Style Collection Handicap (1,200m), his first run at the bigger track.
Joao Moreira settled Romantic Warrior just worse than midfield before swinging out wide in the straight and running straight past his rivals in what looked a pretty strong contest.
The biggest issue for Romantic Warrior now is his rating – he’s likely to be in the mid-to-high 70s after that effort – meaning trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing will have to give him another run (and win) to ensure he gets a start.
Shum also has a query about stepping up in trip, so that next start will be over 1,400m to get a gauge on what is possible.
“It all depends on how he handles the 1,400m,” the trainer said. “If he can handle the 1,400m [and win again] he will go to a rating of 80-something but it’s hard to tell whether he can get into the Classic Mile. Even with Packing Victory on 81 I am still a little bit worried whether he will get into the Classic Mile.
“There are a lot of Class Three 1,400m races so I will check the programme and find out when Joao is free.”
Getting into the field won’t be an issue for the Tony Cruz-trained Ima Single Man – his rating will be somewhere around 90 – after his performance in the Class Two Lukfook Jewellery Cup (1,400m).
The Gingerbread Man gelding was the beneficiary of a terrific ride from Matthew Poon Ming-fai – he didn’t go around another horse after deciding to stick hard to the rail – and it proved the winning move as he beat Circuit Three by a short-head.
“He got the luck of the draw, that played the biggest part in it,” Cruz said. “Somehow he had a good start. He’s not a very fast horse, he’s never been a fast horse but somehow he got the inside run and he sneaked up and nailed him.
“I think the luck of the draw played the biggest role and the jockey rode the perfect race, too.
“He’ll definitely go for the Classic Mile. I might give him a little breather, I haven’t decided yet [if he will run again before the Classic Mile]. I’ll have a look at the programme.”
Another Classic Mile hopeful, Blaze Warrior, was the disappointment of the race, John Size’s four-year-old finishing eighth as an odds-on favourite, but he had an excuse after being caught wide throughout.
Finishing between Ima Single Man and Blaze Warrior was Caspar Fownes’ Rocket Spade, the Group One New Zealand Derby winner looking good in his first start in Hong Kong over an unsuitable trip, running on nicely for fourth.
He should take plenty from that effort and should make his presence felt throughout the Classic Series.