Hong Kong Cup hero Romantic Warrior impressed Karis Teetan in a 1,000m trial at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning, with the superstar five-year-old building towards a mouthwatering clash with Golden Sixty and California Spangle in the Group One Stewards’ Cup (1,600m) later this month.
The Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained Romantic Warrior cruised home clear of his rivals in an effort that has Teetan buzzing ahead of his race-day reunion with the galloper he won last season’s Hong Kong Derby and QE II Cup aboard.
“It was a nice trial. I think he needed to get there and do a bit of work. I’ve been on him a few mornings now and he has felt very good,” Teetan said.
“After each and every gallop he has felt like he is improving, so we were looking forward to letting him stretch his legs again and he pleased all of us.”
The Stewards’ Cup will be Teetan’s first ride on Romantic Warrior since their Group One triumph in April’s QE II Cup, with James McDonald stepping in for the galloper’s first two runs this season while the Mauritian jockey was sidelined with a thyroid condition.
“It’s just great to be able to get back on him. We had a great association last season but unfortunately early this season I was not able to ride him,” Teetan said.
“But Danny and owner [Peter Lau Pak-fai] kept their promise, so I’m very thankful for that and at the end of the day he is a once in a lifetime kind of horse.
“Just trialling him this morning has only boosted my confidence and I’m really looking forward to getting back to the races with him.”
The Stewards’ Cup will see Romantic Warrior race over a mile for the first time since his victory in last January’s Classic Mile, however Teetan isn’t at all concerned about the step back from 2,000m.
“At the end of the day we have lots of respect for Golden Sixty and California Spangle, so we’re not going out there thinking it’s going to be easy, but the good thing about Romantic Warrior is that he’s got that natural speed if we want to use him from the start,” he said.
“He’s going to have the speed to be able to keep up with them at the mile and once he switches off, he’s got a nice turn of foot.
“I know he’s going back in trip but the way he’s going and the way he’s feeling – he’s feeling fresh at the moment – I think this trial will put him just where we need him to be before the race.”
Teetan also trialled the David Hayes-trained Flagship Warrior and expects to be riding the horse in the first leg of the four-year-old series – January 29’s Classic Mile – after piloting him to victory in his Hong Kong debut last month.
“At this moment it’s looking like I’ll ride Flagship Warrior. He’s a really nice horse and after today’s trial he will be fit for the race,” said Teetan, after partnering Flagship Warrior to a close fourth behind Ka Ying Star in his trial.
Teetan has a full book of nine rides at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, including Berlin Tango in the Group Three January Cup (1,800m).
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