Brent Thomson praises Romantic Warrior ahead of Cox Plate tilt

Romantic Warrior gallops at Moonee Valley.

Revered for prodigious Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) exploits, former champion jockey Brent Thomson believes Hong Kong’s Romantic Warrior is the “logical favourite” to win the AU$5 million showpiece at Moonee Valley on Saturday.

Thomson, who rode 129 winners in Hong Kong during a decorated international career, is one of only three jockeys to partner four Cox Plate winners – Hugh Bowman and Glen Boss are the others – while Darby Munro holds the race record with five victories.

Asked which of the 12 runners engaged in Saturday’s contest he would like to partner if given the choice, New Zealander Thomson pointed to compelling form lines stemming from Romantic Warrior’s fourth in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) on October 7.

“The Turnbull Stakes form is always rock solid and the Caulfield Cup bears witness to that,” Thomson said. “He (Romantic Warrior) is the one that’s got a pretty special pilot (James McDonald) on board and Danny Shum has him pretty good nick.

“He’s the logical favourite. It (the Cox Plate) is a race which doesn’t spring many surprises, so I’m with him (Romantic Warrior).”

Romantic Warrior finished fourth in the Turnbull Stakes behind Gold Trip, West Wind Blows and Soulcombe, who all contended strongly in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) last Saturday (October 21) with West Wind Blows finishing second, Gold Trip third and Soulcombe seventh behind Without A Fight.

Thomson’s association with the Cox Plate started with victory aboard Fury’s Order in 1975 – when he was only 17. Thomson advanced to three more wins, triumphing aboard Family Of Man in 1977, So Called in 1978 and Dulcify in 1979.

Damien Oliver will ride in the Cox Plate for the final time, while continuing his association with the Cummings family – one of Australian racing’s most illustrious clans famed by the deeds of Bart Cummings, his son Anthony Cummings and more recently his grandson James Cummings, who prepared last season’s. Cox Plate winner Anamoe.

Due to retire in December, 51-year-old Oliver will combine with Edward Cummings – another of grandson of Bart and brother to James – aboard Duais.

The first of Oliver’s two Cox Plate triumphs came aboard Dane Ripper for Bart Cummings in 1997 and the champion hoop is hopeful of prevailing one final time.
For Edward Cummings, several rivals horses stand out – but few more than Romantic Warrior.

“Danny’s horse looked impeccable at yesterday’s gallop – I saw it on social media – he looked very sharp, very powerful,” Cummings said.

Six-time Hong Kong jockey Zac Purton will partner Fangirl for leading trainer Chris Waller.

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