International travel is needed to elevate Hong Kong’s new heroes
Romantic Warrior and California Spangle are Hong Kong racing’s exciting new stars but without testing themselves offshore they will be considered just two more one-track wonders.
It feels like a long time since a Hong Kong star hit the road for an overseas Group 1 contest and after dominating the International Races at Sha Tin this past weekend, there is a sense that the time is overdue for the city’s hometown heroes to compete offshore again.
The vibe after the four Group 1 races was electric, the biggest crowd since Covid hit almost three years ago lapped up the show; and the sense of relief from Hong Kong Jockey Club staff and executives was channelled into an emotional high at witnessing three performances which, on the face of it, were ‘world class’.
Romantic Warrior’s imposing four and a half-length demolition of the Hong Kong Cup field, featuring five solid Japanese Group 1 performers, signalled obvious international scope. California Spangle’s cute defeat of Golden Sixty emphasised that there are now two top-drawer milers on the scene rather than one; and Wellington’s success in the Sprint, aside from being a triumph of preparation by trainer Richard Gibson, was no more than confirmation that he’s the best of the local speedsters, given the apparent ‘second rate’ nature of the Japanese challengers.