Hong Kong’s Heavyweights Front and Centre on Champions Day

Coming into Sunday’s FWD Champions Day meeting–the spring Hong Kong International Races, if you will–two-time Horse of the Year Golden Sixty (Aus) (Medaglia d’Oro), reigning champion middle-distance horse Romantic Warrior (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) and emerging sprinter Lucky Sweynesse (NZ) (Sweynesse {Aus}) had absorbed a gut punch or two over the course of the season. But each put pay to any lingering disappointment from those efforts with eye-catching, skinny-odds victories at before a crowd of nearly 50,000 at Sha Tin Racecourse.

If you had a punt, one of two things happened–you either didn’t get wealthy betting them or tore tickets trying to oppose them.

In the end, each of the trio proved soft winners. Lucky Sweynesse consolidated his position as the leading sprinter and arguably one of the all-time best sprinters in the jurisdiction in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize, while Golden Sixty–who could not quite reel in California Spangle (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) in search of a three-peat in December’s G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile–raced as close to the speed as he has in recent memory, then produced his trademark acceleration to win the G1 FWD Champions Mile for a record-setting third time. With the win, the 7-year-old reportedly surpasses Winx (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}) as the richest racehorse in history. Romantic Warrior could not solve Golden Sixty in the G1 Stewards’ Cup and G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup in his two most recent runs, but he stamped his authority on the G1 FWD QE II Cup for the second year in a row, comfortably besting Japan’s Prognosis (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}).

“It was a day that showed Hong Kong racing has fully come back to the world stage with the atmosphere and the performances of these champion horses,” said Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges. “This is really a global event and one which has improved the reputation of Hong Kong racing, especially after COVID. Today was a fantastic day of racing, the atmosphere was electrifying and the fans definitely supported us.”

Romantic Warrior Makes History Of His Own

Reported to have had a bit of a temperature the days leading up to his Gold Cup defeat, Romantic Warrior was on song for the QE II Cup and put on dominating performance in defence of his title.

Forwardly placed as Money Catcher (NZ) (Ferlax {NZ}) was allowed to crawl up front, Romantic Warrior was slipped just a bit of rein by the visiting James McDonald–also in the saddle in December–and the duo quickly went to the front-runner shortly after turning into the straight before streaking clear. His final 400 metres were timed in :22.53, faster than Golden Sixty’s finishing kick and only fractionally slower than Lucky Sweynesse.

“He’s a world-class horse and put in a performance just like he did in December,” said McDonald. “There wasn’t one part of the race where I thought he wasn’t right–he was always going to explode for me–and the race panned out beautifully. He’s a world-class horse. It took an absolute weapon to run him down last time, but he’s a great 2000m horse and I really enjoy riding him.”

Prognosis, last-out winner of the G2 Kinko Sho, rallied from the tail to be second, while Dubai Honour (GB) (Pride Of Dubai {Aus}) kept on for third in a race that wasn’t run to suit, according to his trainer William Haggas.

“It was messy from our point of view but Romantic Warrior was so good,” the conditioner said of Dubai Honour, who won the G1 Ranvet S. and G1 Longines Queen Elizabeth S. in Australia prior to his getting his passport stamped in Hong Kong as well. “But the last few months have been fantastic, more than I could have dreamed of, and it really whets your appetite for more of these trips.”

Trainer Danny Shum was at one time an assistant to Ivan Allan, who sent Fairy King Prawn (Aus) (Danehill) to Japan to win the Yasuda Kinen, and that country could be a future port of call for Romantic Warrior.

“I feel big relief and I must say a big thank you to my stable team, the mafoos, the work rider Gary Lau as they work very hard and never give up,” he said. “We plan to run now in the [G1 Standard Chartered] Champions and Chater Cup (2400m, May 28] and then we will have a good look about Japan for next season.

The 2000-metre Tenno Sho (Autumn) is what Shum is considering, a race that could also attract the world’s top-rated Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}).

“I’d like to go to Japan,” Shum added. “I have a history because my ex-boss Ivan won the Yasuda Kinen and I hope I will follow him successfully and win a Group 1 there.”



Pedigree Notes:

Romantic Warrior is one of three winners from three to the races for his dam, a daughter of the English listed-winning and Group 3-placed, G2 Prix Jean Romanet and GI E. P. Taylor S. winner Folk Opera, who was purchased by Blandford Bloodstock carrying to Exceed and Excel (Aus) for €82,000 at the 2016 Goffs November Sale. The in-utero purchase, named Melodic Charm (Ire), was sold for 85,000gns at the 2018 Tattersalls October Sale and was a two-time winner at the races for Saeed Manana and James Tate before clearly benefitting from the success of Romantic Warrior when selling to the China Horse Club  for 270,000gns in foal to Dark Angel (Ire) at last year’s Tattersalls December Mares Sale. Folk Melody is also the dam of the 3-year-old colt Operation Gimcrack (Ire) (Showcasing {GB}) and a yearling colt by the same stallion.

Sunday, Sha Tin, Hong Kong
FWD QE II CUP-G1, HK$25,000,000, Sha Tin, 4-30, 3yo/up, 2000mT, 2:01.92, gd.
1–ROMANTIC WARRIOR (IRE), 126, g, 5, by Acclamation (GB)
1st Dam: Folk Melody (Ire), by Street Cry (Ire)
2nd Dam: Folk Opera (Ire), by Singspiel (Ire)
3rd Dam: Skiphall (GB), by Halling
(300,000gns Ylg ’19 TATOCT; HK$4,800,000 HRA ’21 HKJUN). O-Peter Lau Pak Fai; B-Corduff Stud & T J Rooney; T-Danny Shum Chap-shing; J-James McDonald; HK$14,250,000. Lifetime Record: Ch. 4yo & Ch. Middle Distance Horse-HK, 13-10-2-0, HK$81,725,400. Werk Nick Rating: B. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free Equineline.com catalog-style pedigree.
2–Prognosis (GB), 126, h, 5, Deep Impact (Jpn)–Velda (GB), by Observatory. O-Shadai Race Horse Ltd; B-Shadai Farm; T-Mitsumasa Nakauchida; J-Zac Purton; HK$5,500,000.
3–Dubai Honour (GB), 126, g, 5, Pride Of Dubai (Aus)–Mondelice (GB), by Montjeu (Ire). (110,000gns Ylg ’19 TATOCT). O-Mohammed Obaida; B-Macha Bloodstock/Meridian International; T-William Haggas; J-Tom Marquand; HK$2,500,000.
Margins: 2, HF, HF. Odds: 3-5, 33-5, 37-10.
Also Ran: Money Catcher (NZ), Danon the Kid (Jpn), Geraldina (Jpn), Tourbillon Diamond (Aus). Click for the HKJC.com chart, PPs and sectional timing.

G60 Legacy Grows In Champions Mile

As the HKJC’s Nick Child told jockey Vincent Ho post-race, there comes a point where you run out of superlatives for a horse like Golden Sixty. In scoring for the ninth time at the elite level, he surpasses Beauty Generation (NZ) as the most prolific Group 1 winner in Hong Kong history, becomes the first to win the Champions Mile three times and reportedly assumes the mantle as the world’s richest-ever racehorse.

Soon to turn eight, Golden Sixty is still delivering the goods and was even showing a bit of a new dimension Sunday afternoon. Very quickly into stride, he was content to sit atypically handy to the pace so as not to allow California Spangle and BMW Hong Kong Derby hero Voyage Bubble (Aus) (Deep Field {Aus}) to get too far away. Best known for his killer turn of foot, Golden Sixty was allowed to creep forward and split the two front-runners, looking precariously placed for a stride or two, but when asked to sprint, he left his rivals in the dust to record a third straight victory overall since going down to defeat in the Hong Kong Mile.

“We got a sneak through the inside, one off and sort of in second position,” Ho explained. “I told myself before this race to try and enjoy every moment with Golden Sixty because he is seven now and we don’t know when he is going to retire but it’s the best way to enjoy every single step with him.

“I’m nothing without him. All of the credit goes to Golden Sixty,” the soft-spoken Ho added humbly.

Having annexed two-thirds of the older horse Triple Crown, Golden Sixty could press on for a sweep in the Champions and Chater Cup, where he would find Romantic Warrior again. But trainer Francis Lui is thinking more long-term, with the Hong Kong Mile the objective.

“Now we just keep a little bit longer in between races, before we could keep racing–even some of the Group 3 races–but now we just pick the Group 1 races,” Lui said.



Pedigree Notes:

Golden Sixty’s dam, winner of the 2006 G2 Debutante S. for Jim Bolger, is also responsible for the Southern Hemisphere-bred 3-year-old filly Golden Sister (Aus) (Capitalist {Aus}), an A$425,000 graduate of the 2021 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, who was unraced in Australia and has since been sent to the U.S., where she was to be covered by Medaglia d’Oro this breeding season. The mare’s current yearling is a filly by Medaglia d’Oro‘s 2015 G1 Golden Slipper S. hero Vancouver (Aus) and she produced a filly by Wootton Bassett (GB) last Oct. 10 before visiting So You Think (NZ) last November.

Sunday, Sha Tin, Hong Kong
FWD CHAMPIONS MILE-G1, HK$20,000,000, Sha Tin, 4-30, 3yo/up, 1600mT, 1:33.34, gd.
1–GOLDEN SIXTY (AUS), 126, g, 7, by Medaglia d’Oro
1st Dam: Gaudeamus (GSW-Ire, $179,846), by Distorted Humor
2nd Dam: Leo’s Lucky Lady, by Seattle Slew
3rd Dam: Konafa, by Damascus
(A$120,000 Ylg ’17 MMGCYS; NZ$300,000 2yo ’17 NZBRTR). O-Stanley Chan Ka Leung; B-Asco International Pty Ltd (Qld); T-Francis Lui Kin-wai; J-Vincent Ho Chak-yiu; HK$11,400,000. Lifetime Record: 2x Horse of the Year, 2x Ch. Miler, Ch. Middle Distance Horse & Ch. 4yo-HK, 29-25-2-1, HK$147,930,600. *1/2 to Igitur (Aus) (Helmet {Aus}), SP-Aus; and Rainbow Connection (Aus) (Choisir {Aus}), GSP-Aus, $134,127. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.  Click for the free Equineline.com catalog-style pedigree.
2–Beauty Joy (Aus), 126, g, 6, Sebring (Aus)–Impressive Jeuney (Aus), by Jeune (GB). O-Eleanor Kwok Law Kwai Chun; B-; T-Tony Cruz A S; J-Hugh Bowman; HK$4,400,000.
3–California Spangle (Ire), 126, g, 5, Starspangledbanner (Aus)–Pearlitas Passion (Ire), by High Chaparral (Ire). (€150,000 Ylg ’19 GOFORB). O-Howard Liang Yum Shing; B-M Enright; T-Tony Cruz A S; J-Zac Purton; HK$2,000,000.
Margins: 1HF, 3/4, 1 1/4. Odds: 2-5, 20-1, 11-5.
Also Ran: Voyage Bubble (Aus), Aegon (NZ), My Oberon (GB), Waikuku (Ire), Healthy Happy (Aus). Scratched: Glorious Dragon (Ire). Click for the HKJC.com chart, PPs and sectional timing.

‘Swey’-ing To The Music

Hustled along early, Lucky Sweynesse was trapped out three deep early in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize, but he always traveled like a winner, and when Purton hit the gas in upper stretch, the race was well and truly put to bed. In the end, he had a margin of 3 1/4 lengths on fellow Kiwi-bred Courier Wonder (NZ) (Sacred Falls {NZ}). Two-time defending Chairman’s winner Wellington (Aus) (All Too Hard {Aus}), who proved the chief beneficiary when odds-on Lucky Sweynesse ran into serious trouble when sixth on international day, was a well-beaten third.

In the process, Lucky Sweynesse was securing an HK$5-million bonus for becoming the first since the legendary Silent Witness (Aus) to sweep the Sprint series which also included the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) in February and the G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) the following month. The 4-year-old is unbeaten in five starts since striking significant trouble when sixth as the odds-on favourite in the Longines Hong Kong Sprint Dec. 11.

“He’s very unassuming and once he gets out of the gates, you can ride him anywhere. Inside, outside,” Purton said. “He’s versatile in his races, he can come from back in the field, he’s led, he’s stalked the leader. He’s such a lovely horse and he’s very laid-back and he conserves his energy for races.”

Lucky Sweynesse has been registered for the G1 Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo in early June, a race that would mark his first start at the mile. The Everest in Sydney has also been mentioned as a potential option, but connections are playing it close to the vest for now.

“I think, at this moment, we’re thinking about 1200m or 1400m distance,” Man said. “One mile is still a concern, the distance. We’re still thinking. I need to discuss with the owner first. When we make the decision, we’ll tell everybody.”

Pedigree Notes:

A full-brother to 2021 G1 Queensland Oaks third Signora Nera, Lucky Sweynesse has a 3-year-old half-brother by Per Incanto and a yearling half-brother by Contributer (Ire). Having missed to Sweynesse for 2022, Madonna Mia most recently returned to that stallion.



Sunday, Sha Tin, Hong Kong
CHAIRMAN’S SPRINT PRIZE-G1, HK$20,000,000, Sha Tin, 4-30, 3yo/up, 1200mT, 1:08.38, gd.
1–LUCKY SWEYNESSE (NZ), 126, g, 4, by Sweynesse (Aus)
1st Dam: Madonna Mia (NZ) (SW-NZ, $134,764), by Red Clubs (Ire)
2nd Dam: Hill of Hope (Aus), by Danehill
3rd Dam: Macozie (Aus), by Marscay (Aus)
(NZ$90,000 2yo ’20 NZBRTR). O-Cheng Ming Leung, Cheng Yu Tung, Cheng Mei Mei & Cheng Yu Wai; B-P L Dombroski, Explosive Breeding Ltd & S A Sharrock; T-Manfred Man Ka-leung; J-Zac Purton; HK$11,400,000. Lifetime Record: 16-12-2-1, HK$43,885,200. *Full to Signora Nera (NZ), G1SP-Aus, SP-NZ, $145,027. Werk Nick Rating: A++. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free Equineline.com catalog-style pedigree.
2–Courier Wonder (NZ), 126, g, 5, Sacred Falls (NZ)–Fabulist (NZ), by Savabeel (Aus). (NZ$150,000 Ylg ’19 NZBJAN). O-Mr & Mrs Chadwick Mok Cham Hung; B-Waikato Stud Ltd; T-John Size; J-Hugh Bowman; HK$4,400,000.
3–Wellington (Aus), 126, g, 6, All Too Hard (Aus)–Mihiri (Aus), by More Than Ready. (A$70,000 Ylg ’18 MMGCYS). O-Mr & Mrs Michael Cheng Wing On & Jeffrey Cheng Man Cheong; B-Kia Ora Stud Pty Ltd, David Paradise, Steve McCann (NSW); T-Richard Gibson; J-Alexis Badel; HK$2,000,000.
Margins: 3 1/4, 1 1/4, 1. Odds: 1-5, 33-1, 32-5.
Also Ran: Sight Success (Aus), Aguri (Jpn), Duke Wai (NZ), Flaming Rib (Ire), Master Eight (Aus). Click for the HKJC.com chart, PPs and sectional timing.

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