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Romantic Warrior Takes First Yasuda Kinen Title in 18 Years for Hong Kong

3 minute read

Romantic Warrior wins this year’s Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo.

ROMANTIC WARRIOR winning the Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo in Japan.
ROMANTIC WARRIOR winning the Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo in Japan. Picture: Japan Racing Association

Hong Kong's Romantic Warrior demonstrated a powerful performance as race favorite to take this year's Yasuda Kinen 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.

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.

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


Japan Racing Association

Tokyo

Sunday, 02nd June 2024

11
15:40
(local)

THE YASUDA KINEN (G1)

Age: 3yo and up Type: OPEN
JPY ¥347,400,000
1600m TURF GOOD
11
15:40
(local)
JPY ¥347,400,000
1600m GOOD

THE YASUDA KINEN (G1)

Age: 3yo and up Type: OPEN


FP Silk Horse, Age & Sex
Sire & Dam
Jockey
Trainer
SP
WT
1st 7. ROMANTIC WARRIOR (IRE) 6yo G
ACCLAMATION (GB) - FOLK MELODY (IRE)
JAMES MCDONALD
DANNY SHUM
$3.6
58kg
Pak Fai Lau

Sales Information

2nd 5. NAMUR (JPN) 5yo M
HARBINGER (GB) - SAMBRE ET MEUSE (JPN)
YUTAKA TAKE
TOMOKAZU TAKANO
$10
56kg
Carrot Farm Co. Ltd.
3rd 10. SOUL RUSH (JPN) 6yo H
RULERSHIP (JPN) - ETERNAL BOUQUET (JPN)
JOAO MOREIRA
Y IKEE
$4
58kg
Tatsue Ishikawa
4th 2. GAIA FORCE (JPN) 5yo H
KITASAN BLACK (JPN) - NATALE (JPN)
YOSHIHITO NAGAOKA
HARUKI SUGIYAMA
$11.6
58kg
5th 17. SERIFOS (JPN) 5yo H
DAIWA MAJOR (JPN) - SEA FRONT (FR)
Y KAWADA
MITSUMASA NAKAUCHIDA
$6.1
58kg
6th 4. GEOGLYPH (JPN) 5yo H
DREFONG (USA) - AROMATICO (JPN)
H KITAMURA
TETSUYA KIMURA
$43.9
58kg
7th 12. FIERCE PRIDE (JPN) 6yo M
DEEP IMPACT (JPN) - STRAWBERRY FAIR (GB)
RYUSEI SAKAI
SAKAE KUNIEDA
$54.8
56kg
8th 16. ELTON BAROWS (JPN) 4yo H
DEEP BRILLANTE (JPN) - SHONAN CARAT (JPN)
ATSUYA NISHIMURA
HARUKI SUGIYAMA
$63.1
58kg
9th 13. STELLA VELOCE (JPN) 6yo H
BAGO (FR) - OH MY BABY (JPN)
N YOKOYAMA
N SUGAI
$16.4
58kg
10th 8. AIR LOLONOIS (JPN) 7yo G
KING KAMEHAMEHA (JPN) - AIR ONE PIECE (JPN)
H MIYUKI
K SASADA
$107.8
58kg
11th 3. RED MON REVE (JPN) 5yo H
LORD KANALOA (JPN) - LAST GROOVE (JPN)
KAZUO YOKOYAMA
MASAYOSHI EBINA
$36.2
58kg
12th 14. COREPETITEUR (JPN) 4yo H
JUST A WAY (JPN) - VEGAS NIGHT (USA)
Y IWATA
K NAKATAKE
$125.3
58kg
13th 9. PARALLEL VISION (JPN) 5yo H
KIZUNA (JPN) - ART BRUT (JPN)
C P LEMAIRE
SAKAE KUNIEDA
$15.4
58kg
14th 11. WIN CARNELIAN (JPN) 7yo H
SCREEN HERO (JPN) - COSMO CRYSTAL (JPN)
KOSEI MIURA
Y SHIKATO
$18.9
58kg
15th 18. DANON SCORPION (JPN) 5yo H
LORD KANALOA (JPN) - LEXIE LOU (CAN)
K TOSAKI
YUICHI FUKUNAGA
$36.9
58kg
16th 1. CATEDRAL (JPN) 8yo H
HEART'S CRY (JPN) - ABYLA (GB)
ARATA SAITO
Manabu Ikezoe
$212.1
58kg
17th 15. VOYAGE BUBBLE (AUS) 5yo G
DEEP FIELD (AUS) - RAHEIGHTS (AUS)
ZAC PURTON
P F YIU
$17.3
58kg

Sales Information

18th 6. DOBUNE (JPN) 5yo H
DEEP IMPACT (JPN) - PREMIER STEPS (IRE)
YUJI HISHIDA
KOSHIRO TAKE
$71.1
58kg

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