Romantic Warrior maintained his unbeaten record in dramatic style when swooping late to nail California Spangle and land the Classic Mile at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Now a perfect five from five, Romantic Warrior stalked the front-runner into the straight under Karis Teetan before showing a good turn of foot to run down the long-time leader.
Trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing was delighted with the winner, who was sold for HK$4.8 million at last year’s Hong Kong International Sale and is from the first crop of horses sourced for the Jockey Club by former Irish champion jockey Michael Kinane.
“I’d like to thank the Hong Kong Jockey Club for putting this horse in the international sale and Mr Peter Lau [Pak-fai], the owner – he trusted me because I really wanted to buy this horse,” Shum said.
The purchase price already looked money well spent before the Classic Mile victory and Shum was pleased that his jockey followed the race plan perfectly.
“Before the race, we knew the pace would be strong and I told Karis to just follow in fourth or fifth position and he would hit the line very well,” Shum said.
Joao Moreira confident Romantic Warrior can continue unbeaten run
“This horse is very easy to control and he’s got a big heart. When he hits the front, he likes to win. He’s not a big horse but he’s good. He’s happy and he’s healthy, so he performs very well.”
Teetan, who replaced Joao Moreira aboard Romantic Warrior after the Brazilian committed to ride the well-beaten Master Delight, was thrilled to win another huge prize.
“What a lovely horse he is and I’d just like to thank Danny and the owners for the opportunity to ride him,” Teetan said.
The Mauritian rider executed pre-race instructions perfectly and was impressed with the speed shown by his mount late on.
“He had the draw today so he jumped away and I just wanted to get him to sleep and ride for the rail,” Teetan said
“I knew [California] Spangle would be in front but that he would go all the way to the line so I just tracked him through and the last 100m – when he got a clear run – he really let down a lot, so it was a very good win.
“For a horse to accelerate like this, it’s a good sign and he gave me a lovely feel.”
Teetan, whose win on Romantic Warrior completed a double for he and Shum after the success of Majestic Star in the Class Three Chai Wan Handicap (1,200m), will hope he is in prime position to keep the ride on the Classic Mile winner for the second leg of the four-year-old series, the Classic Cup (1,800m) on February 27.
California Spangle surges toward four-year-old series
“I definitely want to run him in the Classic Cup but, of course, I need to speak to Mr Lau. I think he’ll want to take up the challenge,” Shum said.
California Spangle’s trainer Tony Cruz was left bemoaning the draw after a huge performance from his runner out of stall 13 and there could well be a rematch between conqueror and conquered in the Classic Cup on February 27.
“It was a huge effort and he was so close,” Cruz said. “Maybe it was the luck of the draw – if Romantic Warrior and California Spangle got the opposite draws it could be a different story. But there’s a good chance he is going to run in the Classic Cup, he ran a big race and I believe he will run 1,800m.”