Romantic Warrior has forged into BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) history as the first triumphant graduate of the Hong Kong International Sale after crowning a meteoric rise by snaring the HK$24 million Classic with dramatic victory over California Spangle at Sha Tin on Sunday (20 March).
Purchased at the June 2021 sale for HK$4.8 million by owner Peter Lau on trainer Danny Shum’s recommendation after being originally selected out of the 2019 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale by former champion Irish jockey Michael Kinane, Romantic Warrior took his career earnings to HK$24.8 million with his sixth win from seven starts.
Providing Shum with his first success in Hong Kong’s most coveted race after placings with Thumbs Up (second to Collection, 2009) and Playa Del Puente (runner-up to Golden Sixty in 2020), Romantic Warrior edged out California Spangle by a head after a desperate battle between the two highest-rated horses in the field. Money Catcher was third, two and a quarter lengths away, in a slick 2m 00.23s.
“He (Romantic Warrior) deserved to win the Derby, he is a very honest horse and very consistent. Karis did a great job, so I’m very happy,” Shum said. “The second horse, California Spangle also ran very good. The pace was strong and he was still fighting on the line.”
Winner of the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) in January, Romantic Warrior’s only unplaced run came when caught wide when fourth behind California Spangle in the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) last month.
As the two-best performed horses in the Four-Year-Old Classic Series squared off as Romantic Warrior emerged from the ruck to challenge California Spangle in the straight, Shum retained complete faith in the Acclamation gelding.