Romantic Warrior’s Cox Plate challenge tests Shum’s experience

Hong Kong’s 2000-metre star is taking his trainer into new territory, but there is a wealth of travel experience to call upon.

Hong Kong star Romantic Warrior tunes up at Werribee quarantine centre. (Photo by George Sal/Getty Images)

David Morgan

Chief Journalist


Danny Shum knows a thing or two about travelling horses overseas. He learned the ropes under his old master Ivan Allan, put that experience into practice with Little Bridge’s Royal Ascot win 11 years ago, and now he hopes to use his accumulated knowledge to succeed with Romantic Warrior.

The plan is for the five-year-old to take in two races at the Spring Carnival; the G1 Turnbull Stakes on October 7 and the main target, the G1 Cox Plate on October 28.

But this is Shum’s biggest offshore test yet; a new challenge in an environment where he has never travelled a horse to race. He has already had to do some learning after he was told Romantic Warrior’s regular feed would not be allowed into Australia: they switched two weeks ago to an approved feed and the Hong Kong star has been gradually getting used to the taste.

“He’s eating more; the horses take a bit of time to settle when they first arrive and I believe he’s improving day by day,” Shum told Asian Racing Report from Hong Kong. “But this is the first time I’ve travelled a horse to Australia to race, so there are unknown parts to it, it’s a big challenge.”


The hands-on work at the Werribee quarantine centre is being done by his assistant trainer, the former jockey, Ben So, taking on the job Shum did for Allan with the likes of Indigenous and Fairy King Prawn.

“I travelled with most of Ivan Allan’s horses,” Shum recalls. “All the horses Mr Allan travelled were good horses; when you travel a horse, the first thing is they need to have a good temperament, and they must have the talent and the ability.

“I think with my ex-boss Mr Allan, Indigenous and Fairy King Prawn were the best two, and it was very important to get that experience travelling those horses overseas.”

Shum travelled several times with Indigenous to England, Dubai, Japan and Singapore, and with Fairy King Prawn to Dubai and Japan, all around the turn of the century. Indigenous was sixth in Daylami’s G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and second to Special Week in the G1 Japan Cup in 1999; Fairy King Prawn landed a famous victory in the 2000 G1 Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo, and was a neck second in the G1 Dubai Duty Free the following year.   

Shum was granted his own trainer’s licence in 2003, and his biggest success so far was achieved at Ascot in 2012 when Little Bridge won the G1 King’s Stand Stakes under Zac Purton.

Romantic Warrior has a higher profile than that smart sprinter though: this is the best horse to step outside of Hong Kong to race since the brilliant champion Able Friend failed in the 2015 Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot.

Romantic Warrior produced a dominant performance in the G1 QEII Cup. (Photo by Yu Chun Christopher Wong/Getty Images)

Shum is aware of the significance and the difficulty, but he and owner Peter Lau are prepared to meet the sporting challenge. And, to help Romantic Warrior, he has sent with him a companion, Romantic Charm, a horse well acquainted with the Werribee air, having won his first race there in November 2021.

Romantic Charm was then known as Blue Army and won the G2 Sandown Guineas shortly afterwards; since moving to Hong Kong, the five-year-old is without a win in six starts. But most importantly, Shum was keen for his star to have a familiar horse with him in an alien environment.

“Romantic Charm is the same owner as Romantic Warrior and he is accompanying him, so having that company will help him,” he said.

Shum confirmed that the plan remains for Romantic Warrior to have the two runs, assuming the three-time Group 1 winner eats his grub and thrives. 




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