Horse Racing
Romantic Warrior rests ahead of Gold Cup mission, Chill Chibi chases five straight wins

By Declan Schuster
19/12/2023 12:35

Romantic Warrior is a 12-time winner from 17 starts.
Romantic Warrior is a 12-time winner from 17 starts.

Trainer Danny Shum will give Romantic Warrior a short break with a view to returning in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) on 25 February, 2024 at Sha Tin, opting against a potential rematch with Golden Sixty in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) on 21 January.

Displaying trademark tenacity to win a second straight G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) on 10 December at the 2023 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races, Romantic Warrior pulled out all of the stops that day, exactly one start – or only 43 days – after doing the same successfully in the G1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m), a challenging overseas conquest, which also required arduous travel, quarantine and acclimatisation.

“He looks great but I feel he will be a little bit tired because it was a hard run, both two races were very hard. He’ll have a short break now,” Shum said. “He’ll have enough time to recover if we go to the Gold Cup next – 2000 metres is his trip, I think that’s a better idea.”

A graduate of the Hong Kong International Sale, Romantic Warrior will target a sixth Group 1 in the Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup. He finished second to Golden Sixty in last year’s renewal.

“He’s easy to train but he won both of those two races with his fighting heart, he uses a lot of energy. I have to look after him because he uses himself a lot, it’s better to give him a bit of a break and go again,” Shum said.

Romantic Warrior wins the 2023 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup.

Narrow victory in the HK$36 million LONGINES Hong Kong Cup saw Romantic Warrior lift his earnings to HK$119.79 million. In doing so, he became the third horse to reach HK$100 million after Golden Sixty (HK$165.85 million) and Beauty Generation (HK$106 million).

“I feel he always tries his best. I think he’s reached his best but he’s good enough and he uses everything. He always tries and never gives up, he is such a tough horse,” Shum said.

Romantic Warrior was bought for HK$4.8 million by owner Peter Lau. Shum indicates the five-year-old will remain at Sha Tin instead of shipping to Conghua.

“He is always sound, he’s very gentle, he’s a good ride, he has a good temperament, he can eat and he always tries – he’s very easy to look after. He stays at Sha Tin – he always remains in my sight,” Shum said.

Romantic Warrior’s record includes wins in the 2022 Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m), 2022 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) as well as a pair of G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) scores in 2022 and 2023.

Chill Chibi is a four-time winner from five starts.
Chill Chibi is a four-time winner from five starts.

Seeking a fifth straight win to further preserve his standing as a leading 2024 Four-Year-Old Classic Series player, Chill Chibi (123lb) will face seven rivals at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (20 December) when he makes his Class 2 debut in the Saturn Handicap (1650m).

Placed second in the DBS x Manulife Million Challenge on 45 points – victory, second, third or fourth place sees Chill Chibi leapfrog Humble Star into first, while the competition – carrying a first prize bonus to owners of HK$1 million – closes on 21 February next year.

“He’s got talent, he’s a super horse. It’s amazing that he has won four times from five starts and he’s improving, at this stage, he keeps coming and coming but how much improvement there is still to come, I don’t know,” Shum said.
The New Zealand-bred has won three times in Class 3. Last start he rounded the field impressively to secure a first win over 1800m, adding to his three triumphs over tomorrow night’s course and distance.

Chill Chibi is yet to race at Sha Tin and Shum expects his first attempt will come in the Hong Kong Classic Mile on 4 February – the first leg of the HK$52 million Four-Year-Old Classic Series.

“The big question is that he has only raced at Happy Valley. He’s never raced at Sha Tin, so that’s a question mark. After this race he will go straight to the Hong Kong Classic Mile.

“I want to keep him a little bit fresh and race over 1600 metres and see how he goes. Then he’ll go over 1800 metres and 2000 metres,” Shum said.

The Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) is the second leg of the three-race Four-Year-Old Classic Series, while the BMW Hong Kong Derby on 24 March rounds out the competition.

Only Golden Sixty (2020) and Rapper Dragon (2017) have won all three legs.

Wednesday’s (20 December) eight-race fixture at Happy Valley kicks off at 7.10pm with the Class 3 Mercury Handicap (2200m).