Looking to keep the dream of a Four-Year-Old Classic Series sweep alive, Karis Teetan is banking on Romantic Warrior’s ability to level up and once again overcome distance queries in Sunday’s (27 February) HKD$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) at Sha Tin.
“To be honest, not really, of course he’s stepping up in distance after last time, but he’s shown good progress already and I think it’s ok for him.
“Of course, it is in the back of our minds that he is stepping up in distance again but he’s a progressive horse – I galloped him on Saturday (19 February) and he went really well, he is in good shape and I think the distance will be ok because he can relax and he has a nice turn of foot,” Teetan said.
Winner of last month’s HKD$12 million Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) – Romantic Warrior – a son of Acclamation – was purchased out of the 2021 Hong Kong International Sale for HKD$4.8 million – a figure he has swiftly repaid to owner Peter Lau Pak Fai with five wins from five starts and earnings of HKD$10.41 million.
“He went around nicely (on Saturday) – when I squeezed him over the last 200 metres, I liked the way he responded – he’s definitely improving with each and every run.
“I can feel already that he has improved after the Hong Kong Classic Mile – physically and mentally – he’s an exciting horse,” Teetan said.
The Irish-bred boasts two wins at Happy Valley, while his remaining three wins have come at Sha Tin over 1200m, 1400m and 1600m respectively.
“We were held up in the straight and the turn of foot he showed, he actually went to California Spangle and he ran past him – he really impressed me the way that he won and I definitely think that even up in distance again it will be ok,” Teetan said.
Rapper Dragon did what none could do before him by sweeping all three legs of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series in 2017, while Golden Sixty matched that feat in 2020.
“We will be keeping an eye on California Spangle because you can’t give him too much of a head start, but I believe he is a progressive horse and I’m looking forward to riding him (Romantic Warrior) again,” Teetan said.
Teetan won the 2015 Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) aboard Thunder Fantasy, while trainer Danny Shum’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series wins have come only in the Hong Kong Classic Mile with Scintillation (2005), Thumbs Up (2009) and Romantic Warrior (2022).
“You would want him to be where he is comfortable, especially as he gets up in trip.
“I don’t think we want to force him; it is a case of where he is comfortable and I think then he’ll show that turn of foot but if we try to ride him a certain way then he may not show that finish we know he has,” Teetan said.
Like Teetan, Shum also has no doubts regarding Romantic Warrior’s ability of seeing out 1800m.
“I don’t think there are any problems with 1800 metres for him, I just hope he gets a good draw,” Shum said. “His form is good, he’s ok and there’s no problems – Karis (Teetan) reported from his gallop that he is a happy and healthy horse.”
Shum saddles two for Sunday’s Hong Kong Classic Cup: Romantic Warrior and Gorytus – the latter is a son of Footstepsinthesand who previously raced for Richard Fahey in Great Britain.
“We’ll give him (Gorytus) the chance and I think he’ll run well,” Shum said.
The HKD$48 million Four-Year-Old Classic Series is a three-race showdown which kicks off with the HKD$12 million Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) and is followed by the HKD$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) and HKD$24 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).