Romantic Warrior confirmed starter for Yasuda Kinen

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Romantic Warrior will bid for a fifth Group 1 victory this season following trainer 's confirmation the Hong Kong champion will contest the Group 1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Tokyo Racecourse on 2 June, when he will clash with fellow Hong Kong contender Voyage Bubble.

Shum made the decision to travel abroad for the second time this season with seven-time Group 1 winner Romantic Warrior after discussions with owner Peter Lau.

“He will go to ,” Shum said.

“He will leave around the 21st of May.”

Referring to the 133-rater's recovery from his narrow, record-breaking Group 1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) triumph on 28 April, Shum said: “He should be okay – he can be better.”

Romantic Warrior will be accompanied to Japan by Romantic Charm, who also travelled to Australia last year when his decorated stablemate clinched Hong Kong's first victory in the Group 1 (2040m) at Moonee Valley Racecourse on 28 October.

With subsequent wins in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m), Group 1 Hong Kong (2000m) and FWD QEII Cup, Romantic Warrior will next attempt to match the feats of Ivan Allan-trained Fairy King Prawn (2000) and Tony Cruz's Bullish Luck (2006) in landing the Yasuda Kinen.

Shum's most recent representative in Japan was sprinter Victor The Winner, who finished third in the Group 1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) at Chukyo Racecourse on 24 March.

With 14 wins and three seconds from 19 starts, Romantic Warrior has raced only twice at 1600m, winning the Hong Kong Classic Mile in 2022 before finishing second, beaten a length, by Golden Sixty in the 2023 Group 1 Stewards' Cup.

With Zac Purton booked to ride Voyage Bubble, James McDonald is expected to again partner Romantic Warrior in the Yasuda Kinen.

With 43 Hong Kong victories to his credit this season, Shum is sixth in the Hong Kong trainers' championship behind (58), (53), John Size (44), Tony Cruz (43) and Ricky Yiu (43) and will saddle six runners at Sha Tin on Saturday (11 May) – including Romantic Charm, who runs in the Class 3 Tsim Sha Tsui Handicap (1650m, dirt).

Shum is represented in the meeting's feature – the Class 2 Hong Kong China Rugby Cup Handicap (1600m) – by , who resumes after his ninth in the (2000m) behind Massive Sovereign.

The four-year-old faces several older rivals in the 10-horse field, including The Golden Scenery and , who will again be ridden by Lyle Hewitson.

“I thought he (Flaming Rabbit) performed admirably (last start), it was a very good run. He had to shoulder a big weight over a distance (1800m) he was trying for the first time and he was strong to the finish and just got overhauled late,” Hewitson said of the gelding's third to C P Brave on 20 April.

“It was very, very good run. He's got the big weight again, but he's back to the trip where he has performed very well consistently. He's come out of that race really well, so he should be a live chance again.”

Fresh from a Happy Valley double on Wednesday night (8 May), Harry Bentley will search for a third win this season on .

“He's obviously run some extremely good races recently, having won twice and finishing third last time, so he might just be at a rating (96) the handicap might just have got a hold of him but he's still in a position where he can run a solid race and I certainly wouldn't discount him being capable of winning,” Bentley said.

“He's in a rich vein of form and he's holding his form well.”

Saturday's 10-race card starts with the Class 5 Yau Ma Tei Handicap (1400m) at 1pm.

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