Cup cakewalk for Romantic Warrior delivers HKIR first for McDonald
Romantic Warrior has added the G1 Hong Kong Cup to his Hong Kong Derby win earlier this year, destroying an international quality field in the Sha Tin feature.
Jockey James McDonald has declared Romantic Warrior a ‘superstar’ after the four-year-old delivered the Australian-based jockey his first Hong Kong International Raceday Group 1 success with a 4.5-length win in the Hong Kong Cup.
The Irish-bred son of Acclamation took his record for Danny Shum to nine wins from 10 starts, coming from just off the pace to seize control of the race quickly in the straight and run away to a convincing victory, with Danon The Kid in second and Money Catcher finishing in third.
McDonald’s only previous Group 1 success in Hong Kong came back in the 2012 Champions Mile aboard Xtension and he was clearly delighted to have capped his current trip with an elite win, having been crowned Longines World Best Jockey on Friday evening.
“It was a superstar performance, wasn’t it?” he said. “He put himself in a great spot after being fast from the gates and he switched off and Danny Shum has had him in tip-top order the whole time.
“Because I began so well, I had control of the race and he’s so adaptable this horse. He’s very, very and he just has a great attribute of switching off and has such a great turn of foot.”
Japanese rival Panthalassa was expected to assume front-running duties, and while he eventually got to the lead, it came after he dwelt initially, meaning he had to use up more energy than preferred.
Rather than stretch out with a big lead, as he did in the recent Tenno Sho, Panthalassa ran at a controlled tempo, with Ka Ying Star on his outside and fellow Japanese contender Lei Papale tracking him through on the rail.
But while the tempo wasn’t strong, the race changed shape quickly on straightening and initially it was the outsider Money Catcher that loomed as the main contender. However, McDonald had plenty of horse underneath him on Romantic Warrior and in a matter of moments, the pair had assumed the lead and sailed off to a huge victory.
Danon The Kid was the best performed of the Japanese horses and closed off consistently from the back of the field to snatch second from Money Catcher, while Tourbillon Diamond also finished off well to claim fourth.
Romantic Warrior’s victory is also the first HKIR success for Shum.