Danny Shum expects Romantic Warrior improvement for Cox Plate

Romantic Warrior on his way to the starting gates.

Trainer Danny Shum is confident this afternoon’s fourth-placed effort in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington has Romantic Warrior on the right track for his Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) tilt on October 28 at Moonee Valley.

“He hasn’t raced for close to five months, so he needs the run, actually. James (McDonald) said in three weeks he will be back, back to his top form.

“I always targeted the Cox Plate, so we needed a lead-up race for him to see how he can handle the left turn. I cannot say I’m happy but I’m not disappointed,” Shum said.

Racing for the first time in five months, Romantic Warrior found a prominent position in the run under jockey James McDonald and, while racing slightly keenly, he was overrun by 2022 Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) winner Gold Trip’s unmatchable burst of speed.

“He (Romantic Warrior) was good. He needed the run a bit, so he will improve,” McDonald said.

The win was Gold Trip’s second at the top-level for jockey Mark Zahra and trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.

Romantic Warrior and Gold Trip will meet again in the Cox Plate.

“We expected him (Gold Trip) to run well but to go like that was huge,” Zahra said. “Unbelievable, I’m tingling. I can’t believe he won like that. What a win.”

The winning time of the race was 2:01.62s, while West Wind Blows and Soulcombe filled the placings ahead of Romantic Warrior, who collects AU$33,750 (HK$169,900) for his effort.

“It was just that he (Romantic Warrior) was a little bit tired over the last 100 metres. He’s not fit, he’s not 100 percent. Hopefully this will bring him up,” Shum said.

Pre-race Shum declared Romantic Warrior around 85-90 percent fit; the handler is hopeful his charge can find the necessary improvement ahead of his second run in Australia.

“James said don’t panic, the horse had a big blow and he was tired the last 100 metres. He didn’t give him a hard time,” Shum said.

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