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Romantic Warrior takes first Yasuda Kinen title in 18 years ror Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Romantic Warrior demonstrated a powerful performance as race favorite to take this year’s Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Tokyo on Sunday title which extended his G1 winning streak to five and eighth victory overall at this level. 

His G1 resume so far includes three consecutive Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2,000m) victories between 2022 and 2024, back-to-back Hong Kong Cup (2,000m) titles in 2022 and 2023, the Cox Plate (2,040m) in 2023, the Hong Kong Gold Cup (2,000m) and his first G1 victory at a mile in the Yasuda Kinen. The son of Acclamation becomes the fourth foreign winner after Heart Lake (1995), Fairy King Prawn (2000) and Bullish Luck (2006). The Yasuda Kinen victory is the first win in Japan for both trainer Chap Shing Shum and jockey James McDonald.

The race broke off with Dobune taking the leading spot and Win Carnelian pressing the pace on his outside. Romantic Warrior, breaking from stall seven, was settled comfortably in sixth and two-wide.

The multiple G1 champion struggled briefly for room in early stretch but once a clear path opened in front of him around 300 meters out, the son of Acclamation found his stride, taking command at the 200-meter pole and stormed home with incredible speed, holding off the fast-closing runner-up by
half-a-length.

“It was a great moment (to win this race). 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 racing track here is wide and very fair and beautiful. I had heard from my friends in Hong Kong about the big fan base in Japan but it was even more than I expected and I feel that they are very enthusiastic. I understand that the Japanese horses are very strong—last time in Hong Kong two Japanese horses nearly beat us and I’ve seen the Japanese horses racing in Dubai and in Australia so I know that they are of good quality. After this race, I think the horse should be quite tired, he’s had a big season so the option (to race in the Takarazuka Kinen) may not be a possibility this time,” commented owner Pak Fai Lau.

“I have a world-class jockey, James McDonald, he’s the champion jockey at the moment and I have every confidence in him. He loves Romantic Warrior and Romantic Warrior loves him—he does his best for him. I’ve been lucky to be given a lot of experience from Ivan Allan and travel with his horses to the Yasuda Kinen and the Japan Cup in the past. Romantic Warrior’s best distance is 2,000 meters but in Hong Kong, the straight is 400 meters where in Tokyo it’s 525 and the hill goes up at 350 meters and down and flat at 250, so you need a horse that can handle 1,800 meters at Tokyo. After discussing with the owner, we have decided that the horse should be given a rest so he won’t race anymore this season,” added trainer Chap Shing Shum.

“I’m just extremely proud, very honored to be traveling with such a good horse and to showcase him to such passionate racing fans. The whole team had done a very very good job. The race went perfectly as planned—we had a plan of being in the first half of the field—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 200 meters to run, it was going to have to be a good horse to go pass him because there’s not many who can go 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 a heart of a lion and tremendous ability,” said jockey James McDonald.

Namur broke nicely and unrushed but not too far behind the mid-field group, shifted out and circled wide to secure a clear path on the outside into the straight and unleased a fine turn of speed, the fastest over the last three furlongs, to reach contention outside Soul Rush with a furlong to go and out-finished that foe by a nose for second, while 1/2 length short of the winner.

Soul Rush sat in mid-division keeping an eye on the eventual winner, a few lengths in front. Gradually picking up speed over the giving ground with about 300 meters to go, the son of Rulership closed in impressively but was unable to match the winner and nosed out at the wire by Namur, finishing third.

Soul Rush sat in mid-division keeping an eye on the eventual winner, a few lengths in front. Gradually picking up speed over the giving ground with about 300 meters to go, the son of Rulership closed in impressively but was unable to match the winner and nosed out at the wire by Namur, finishing third.

Sent off eighth pick, Hong Kong’s other contender Voyage Bubble also broke well and traveled on the heels of the eventual winner in around seventh. In good striking position, this year’s G1 Stewards’ Cup champion shifted to an outer path entering the lane and remained a factor but ran out of steam in the last 300 meters and faded to 17th.

“He had a good round—he was in a good spot just outside Romantic Warrior but he just didn’t fire in the straight. It’s twice now he’s gone left-handed, and he’s performed poorly both times so I think left-handed is not really suitable for him—we’ll get him back down right-handed. He’s handled soft ground in Hong Kong before. He traveled well and his actions were fine so I don’t think the track was an excuse for us. The barrier draw didn’t make a difference as well,” commented jockey Zachary Purton. 

THE 74TH YASUDA KINEN (G1)

3-year-olds & up, 1,600 meters (about 8 furlongs), turf, left-handed
Sunday, June 2, 2024 Tokyo Racecourse 11th Race Post Time: 15:40
Total prize money: ¥ 388,800,000 (about US$ 2,758,000 <US$1=¥141>)
3-y-o: 54kg (about 119 lbs), 4-y-o & up: 58kg (about 128 lbs), 2kg allowance for Fillies & Mares,
1kg allowance for Southern Hemisphere-bred born in 2020, 2kg allowance for Southern Hemisphere-bred born in 2021
Course Record: 1:30.5 Race Record: 1:30.9 [Indy Champ (JPN, by Stay Gold), 2019]
Safety factor: 18 runners Going: Good Weather: Drizzle

FP BK PP Horse Jockey S&A Color Wgt Odds (Fav) Margin (L3F) Sire Dam (Dam’s Sire) Owner Breeder Trainer

1 4 7 Romantic Warrior (IRE)* James McDonald G6 b. 58.0 3.6 (1) 1:32.3 (33.4) Acclamation Folk Melody (Street Cry) Pak Fai Lau Corduff Stud & T.J.Rooney Chap Shing Shum

2 3 5 Namur (JPN) Yutaka Take M5 b. 56.0 10.0 (4) 1/2 (32.9) Harbinger Sambre et Meuse (Daiwa Major) Carrot Farm Co., Ltd. Northern Farm Tomokazu Takano

3 5 10 Soul Rush (JPN) Joao Moreira H6 d.b. 58.0 4.0 (2) Nose (33.1) Rulership Eternal Bouquet (Manhattan Cafe) Tatsue Ishikawa Shimokobe Farm
Yasutoshi Ikee 

Other Horses:
4th: (2) Gaia Force—hugged rails in mid-field, boxed in entering straight, managed to escape following
winner, good effort
5th: (17) Serifos—settled third from rear early, followed Namur to reach contention
6th: (4) Geoglyph—among front runners while saving ground, checked behind horses 200m out
7th: (12) Fierce Pride—prominent early and into straight, appeared to inherit lead but soon out-rallied
8th: (16) Elton Barows—in mid division along rails, slow to find clearing at straight while showing
effort
9th: (13) Stella Veloce—moved up quickly soon after start to join front runners, weakened 200m out
10th: (8) Air Lolonois—traveled fourth from rear, rallied with Red Mon Reve to wire, finished willingly
11th: (3) Red Mon Reve—trailed in rear, showed effort in stretch but never reached contention
12th: (14) Corepetiteur—settled 2nd from rear, even paced at stretch
13th: (9) Parallel Vision—sat in mid-division, chased winner into stretch, lacked needed response
14th: (11) Win Carnelian—pressed pace in second, briefly took over lead in early stretch, gave way in
last furlong
15th: (18) Danon Scorpion—lost ground taking widest route in mid-pack, nothing left in straight
16th: (1) Catedral—saved ground fifth from rear, shifted paths in stretch for late run, came up empty
18th: (6) Dobune—set pace into stretch, caught 300 meters out, used up from early efforts
Fractional time (sec./furlong): 12.1 - 11.0 - 11.4 - 11.9 - 12.0 - 11.3 - 11.2 - 11.4
 Last 4 furlongs: 45.9 Last 3 furlongs: 33.9 
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