Romantic Warrior takes on rivals old and new in a fascinating Group 1 Champions & Chater Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday and the question might be who fills the quinella. 

The last two winners of the race – Panfield (2021) and Russian Emperor (2022) – are there, but is either going well enough to mount a serious challenge here? 

Panfield has only won once since his Champions & Chater triumph and that was first-up the following season. Since then he has placed once in 12 starts since and his trainer Tony Millard has won four races from 256 starts this season. 

Russian Emperor’s statistics read better than that, he won in Qatar and although disappointing in the Sheema Classic in Dubai, the six-year-old worked his way to the line under top weight in the G3 Queen Mother Memorial Handicap. But even at his best, would Russian Emperor pose a threat to Romantic Warrior? 

Looking to less exposed form against this opposition and Straight Arron looms as a top flight stayer still on the rise. Since moving to Caspar Fownes from David Hayes, Straight Arron’s only defeat in four starts was a solid, closing fifth in the Hong Kong Derby.