ThoroughBred Racing

Warrior prevails in a thrilling Cox Plate

Warrior prevails in a thrilling Cox Plate

Danny Shum was determined that his brilliant Romantic Warrior (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) was on course to be primed for the G1 Cox Plate following defeat in the G1 Turnbull S. earlier this month, and he’ll be glad that he wasn’t given a hard race that day in behind Gold Trip (Fr) (Outstrip {GB}).

Well accustomed to battling out tight finishes at Sha Tin, the 6-year-old was a courageous winner of the 2023 Cox Plate in one of the most thrilling finishes in the race’s history.

There was plenty of intrigue ahead of the race, with Fangirl (Sebring) having beaten Mr Brightside (NZ) (Bullbars) in the inaugural G1 King Charles III S., Alligator Blood (All Too Hard) in the form of his life, Duais (Shamus Award) returning to form and a crack pair of 3-year-olds to boot.

When Alligator Blood took to the front in the home straight, you could have been forgiven for thinking it was all over. But, with Mr Brightside nipping up his inside and James McDonald keeping close tabs on the pair, it was a three-way dive for the line, with the Champion Jockey producing Romantic Warrior ahead of Mr Brightside in a photo finish.

It was a tame showing from the two 3-year-olds in the race, with Militarize (NZ) (Dundeel {NZ}) finishing closest in eighth, whilst King Colorado (Kingman {GB}) came home last.

“This horse is pretty special to me,” said an ecstatic McDonald. “When I mentioned to come to the Cox Plate I thought he’d be the perfect horse – I meant what I said.”

McDonald also credited connections, including owner Peter Lau, with their bravery for venturing out of Hong Kong, where the horse is proven and there’s no shortage of prizemoney.

“I reckon he’s got more to come to,” he added. “He made significant amounts of improvement, like we thought he did, and he likes the bloody Valley!”

“This horse (Romantic Warrior) is pretty special to me. I reckon he’s got more to come to. He made significant amounts of improvement, like we thought he did, and he likes the bloody Valley!” – James McDonald

In between a series of embraces from various supporters, Shum added: “This has a big meaning for me. I couldn’t be happier.”

The victory marked a fairytale first stint outside of Hong Kong for Romantic Warrior, who had twice been partnered to Group 1 victory in Hong Kong by McDonald.

It was also another notable success in the race for the influence of the great Street Cry (Ire). In this case he is the sire of Romantic Warrior’s dam, the UK juvenile winner Folk Melody (Ire), whilst he’s also the sire of Street Boss (USA), whose mighty Anamoe won last year’s renewal. That’s not to mention four-time Cox Plate winner Winx, Street Cry’s most famous daughter, or that Street Cry popped up earlier in the afternoon as the broodmare sire of Tom Kitten (Harry Angel {Ire}).