Feature Story

Warrior’s Romantic conquests now include Yasuda Kinen, books Breeders’ Cup ticket

Warrior’s Romantic conquests now include Yasuda Kinen, books Breeders’ Cup ticket Jun 3, 2024

By Masakazu Takahashi


Hong Kong legend Romantic Warrior’s stunning victory in the Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen has gained him an automatic berth in this year’s $2 million G1 FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In.

Trained by CS Shum for Peter Lau, the six-year-old Acclamation gelding became the first overseas winner of the race in 18 years since Bullish Luck, also representing Hong Kong, won in 2006. Furthermore, Romantic Warrior’s success at Tokyo Racecourse made him only the fourth foreign horse to win the race after Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor schooled Heart Lake and Fairy King Prawn, trained by Ivan Allan, won in 1995 and 2000 respectively.

The mile contest witnessed Koshiro Take’s Dobune set the pace under Yuji Hishida with Win Carnelian to his outside, while Romantic Warrior was settled by James McDonald at sixth. The pair found it tough to find room briefly in the straight, but once McDonald forced his way between horses, Romantic Warrior pulled clear rather comfortably and hit the front with a little over 200m to run. McDonald knew he had the race wrapped up and beat his chest as he crossed the line.

Tomokazu Takano’s Namur finished a half length behind under Yutaka Take, having edged fellow Soul Rush, trained by Yasutoshi Ikee and ridden by Joao Moreira, by a nose.
Romantic Warrior’s proud owner Lau said: “I had been working on finding the right horse to bring here to race in Japan, so it was really exciting and a happy moment.

“I have had connections with Japan both in business and also within the racing circle, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to race here this time. The track here is wide and very fair and beautiful. I heard from my friends in Hong Kong about the big fan base in Japan, but it was even more than I expected.”

Winning rider McDonald said: “I’m just extremely proud, very honoured to be traveling with such a good horse and to showcase him to such passionate racing fans.

“The race went perfectly as planned. We had a plan of being in the first half of the field, and he enabled us to sit in a very comfortable position throughout. Before the start, he was a bit fresh and above himself, so I felt that he was definitely on the job, and as always, he was there when I asked him for a supreme effort.

“Once he hit the front with 200m to run, it was going to have to be a good horse to go past him because there’s not many who can pass him when he’s in full flight with a furlong to go. He’s a proven champion. He’s won one of the toughest races in Australia in the Cox Plate, he’s won two Hong Kong Cups taking on strong opposition, and now has come to Japan and won a mile race, a little bit shorter than his best distance. He always rises to the occasion, and that’s the beauty of this horse—he’s got the heart of a lion and tremendous ability.”