Karis Teetan hopes the HK$12 million Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday will be run at a strong pace to enable Romantic Warrior to showcase world-class talent – and sap Golden Sixty's withering acceleration.
Warning against the perils of allowing Golden Sixty to saunter through the first 1600 metres before Vincent Ho unleashes the champion miler's terminal sprint in the straight, Teetan wants a genuine contest.
“We can't make it a canter-sprint race because then Golden Sixty is just going to come and beat all of us,” Teetan sid. “So, I'm going to have to keep in mind how fast we are going and we're going to have to make it a truly-run 2000-metre race – and let him feel the 2000 metres.”
Teetan sat outside leader California Spangle when aboard Romantic Warrior in the Group 1 Stewards' Cup (1600m) on January 29, only for Golden Sixty to take a split between the pair before surging away to a famous victory.
Confident the return to ten furlongs will help Hong Kong Derby (2000m), Group 1 QEII Cup (2000m) and Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) victor Romantic Warrior offset Golden Sixty's dash, Teetan is hopeful Money Catcher and Ka Ying Star will ensure a decent clip.
“I'm very happy with my horse. I worked him on Friday morning and he's feeling good, he's in good shape,” Teetan said. “In a small field like that, it's all about the tactics and I just hope we make it a good test.”
Currently fifth in the Hong Kong Jockeys' championship with 25 wins behind Zac Purton (96), Vincent Ho (48), Silvestre De Sousa (34) and Hugh Bowman (29), Teetan takes the ride on Flagship Warrior for David Hayes in the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).
“He's such a good little horse. First-up, he won from barrier 14 first-up, then he had barrier 14 again and now he has barrier 10 – he's had it tough since he got to Hong Kong but his last trial was good,” Teetan said.
“He's got a crossed noseband on this time, so that will settle him down a little bit and looking at the Hong Kong Classic Mile, you have to ignore the run and the form out of the race because of how the race was run.
“So, at 1800 metres, it's going to be a different pace and he's going to run better this time.”
“His class is probably going to carry him through this campaign and then after a period of time, he'll develop some form whereby you would be able to say exactly what his (best) distance is,” Size said of the mercurial four-year-old, who has three wins from four starts.
“He's had some interruptions and he's been scratched a couple of times, so his preparation hasn't been copybook but sometimes it works in your favour – sometimes it doesn't. At the moment, the horse seems to be happy to go to the races, and he's willing to help us out, so we'll keep asking him and see what happens.”
Jockey Derek Leung is hopeful the 77-rater can push for a fourth win this season as he chases a tilt at BMW Hong Kong Derby on 19 March.
“Since the start of the season, he has improved a lot,” Leung said. “He's more comfortable, more relaxed and he's an absolute stayer. If he runs well on Sunday, I think he will have a rating good enough to be in the Derby.”
James McDonald, who returns from Australia to partner Beautyverse in the Hong Kong Classic Cup, will ride debut winner Happy For All in the Class 4 Citi Ultima Handicap (1200m) for Jamie Richards.
“We're happy with how he came out of that race, we're happy with his trials and we're looking forward to his race on Sunday,” Richards said. “Unfortunately, the barrier Gods haven't been kind and he's going to have to do it the hard way from out there in 12 but if he musters the gate speed he showed at the trials, he might be able to sneak forward a bit.
“It's a good quality field as you would expect on Hong Kong Classic Cup day, but we'll be there doing our best.”