Horse Racing
Michael Kinane confident Romantic Warrior has Classic quality

By Leo Schlink
26/02/2022 11:48

Michael Kinane knows how to succeed in Hong Kong.
Michael Kinane knows how to succeed in Hong Kong.

Twice involved in BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) triumphs, Michael Kinane is optimistic of sharing in a third Classic conquest as Romantic Warrior continues an increasingly accomplished campaign in the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (27 February).

Kinane selected and bought Romantic Warrior at the 2019 Tattersalls Sale in his role for the Hong Kong Jockey Club and with the son of Acclamation posting five consecutive wins, including success in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m), the unbeaten Hong Kong International Sale graduate has risen to the top of BMW Hong Kong Derby discussions.

Former champion Irish jockey Kinane has monitored Danny Shum’s emerging talent with unstinting interest as Romantic Warrior has improved his rating from 52 to 101, making the quantum leap from Class 4 to Four-Year-Old Classic Series elite in the space of five runs with victory in the Hong Kong Classic Mile.

“He had to fight his way into a tight corner in the home stretch (in the Mile), which he did really well, and then he had to wait to get his run and he still had four lengths to make up on Tony Cruz’s horse (California Spangle), who’s a very talented horse – and he made it up, so I thought it was a really good performance,” Kinane told Hong Kong Direct.

Romantic Warrior remains unbeaten.
Romantic Warrior remains unbeaten.

Looking to Sunday’s contest, Kinane – who prevailed in the Hong Kong Derby aboard Sound Print in 1992 and Che Sara Sara in 1996 – believes Romantic Warrior has no stamina concerns.

“He has a great way of racing, he has that good tactical early speed, he just relaxes so well – he goes to sleep, which is a big asset when you’re asking a horse to go on and stay a bit. He conserves his energy as much as possible and you’d have to say watching his last win that 1800m is well within his scope,” he said.

Reflecting on his decision to acquire Romantic Warrior, Kinane said: “He was just a lovely individual and very athletic and very correct. He was the only horse I sent straight to vet that year, so I had my mind made up – I wanted him so, thankfully, he passed the vet and I was to acquire him.”

Caspar Fownes is pinning hopes of a successive BMW Hong Kong Derby on Senor Toba on 20 March and Joao Moreira believes the steely grey will benefit strongly after missing the Class 2 Fat Choi Handicap (1800m) on 3 February because of lameness.

Fownes and Moreira combined memorably last season with Sky Darci and retain hopes Senor Toba can emulate his former stablemate despite a recent injury setback.

Senor Toba is out to stamp Derby credentials.
Senor Toba is out to stamp Derby credentials.

“The perfect scenario would be if he’d had that run but I’ve been on him since then and he gave me a good feel,” Moreira said. “While he might not be 100 per cent, he will improve and only racing will allow him to find that extra improvement that he needs.

“He needs to run a good race looking towards the Derby, if he runs a good race and makes it hard for them to beat him then I think he is going to be a seriously good ride for the Derby because he wants the further distance.”

Bristling with confidence after Russian Emperor’s success in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin last Sunday, Blake Shinn hopes Cordyceps Six can continue his upward spiral for Richard Gibson in the Class 2 Lek Yuen Handicap (1200m).

“Cordyceps Six is a horse with plenty of potential, he’s building a really nice record and he’s a young horse going places,” Shinn said as the three-year-old extends to 1200m for the first time after four wins and three placings over 1000m.

“He’s made his way into Class 2, so he’s tackling the big boys – there’s nowhere to hide for him and we’re going to see where he’s at on the weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing where he sits against a great bunch of horses on Sunday.

“He possesses all the qualities to run 1200 metres. He conserves his energy, he’s strong and he runs through the line.

“I think he’s going to end up at a very high level and hopefully on Sunday, he can continue on that pathway.”

Sunday’s (27 February) 10-race fixture at Sha Tin kicks off at 1pm with the Class 5 Wo Che Handicap (2000m).