How will the Hong Kong horse cope with a different race day experience?

Scott Mcglynn
Horse Racing Betting Tips
Horse Racing News
How will the Hong Kong horse cope with a different race day experience?

Romantic Warrior will make his Australian debut in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington on Saturday afternoon.

News Insights

  • Romantic Warrior to make his Flemington debut
  • Full field of 16 in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes
  • Hong Kong star faces a different race build-up
  • The Cox Plate is the main target

Saturday is a day that many racing fans have been looking forward to for a while. Romantic Warrior will set hooves on Australian turf for the first time in race action, with the Hong Kong star expected to make waves here.

Mid-September saw Romantic Warrior touch down in Australia. By the time he gets to Flemington on Saturday, he will have had three weeks to settle into a new regimen. That is a short enough period, so will his class be able to get him through on Saturday, or will he suffer defeat? 

Hong Kong Champion

There is little doubt that Romantic Warrior is a star. He has won 10 of his 14 runs in Hong Kong, and you can count on your fingers the amount of horses worldwide who have a higher rating than him.

His string of wins contains three at Group 1 level, with the 2000m trip of the Turnbull probably his perfect trip for all that he does stay 2400m well enough. He brings a considerable reputation with him.

Different race day experience 

The nature of racing in Hong Kong means that Romantic Warrior walks straight from his own stable to the track for his races. Travelling into Flemington from a stable away from the track and then standing in a tie-up until it is time for this race is vastly different and will be a big test for the horse's temperament.

It is this that sounds a slight note of caution ahead of Saturday's race. Most animals don't do well outside their regular day-to-day routine, so bringing the horse to a foreign country is enough of a test for one who has never travelled before getting used to new surroundings.

To ask Romantic Warrior to race in a Group 1 after a day of first experiences is a tough question for him to answer. It should do him the power of good to have a new experience at this stage rather than before the Cox Plate, which remains the main target of the spring.

The field he's taking on 

There is little doubt in anyone's mind that Romantic Warrior is a star, but with things being so different, is the Turnbull the right time to take him on? The horse racing bookmakers have put him in as the short-priced favourite on Saturday, but it will not be an easy race.

The trip is on the short side for Gold Trip, but he has been building towards full fitness, and the defending Melbourne Cup champion would be a big scalp for Romantic Warrior to take. Others with bigger targets ahead are the likes of Soulcombe, who has caught the eye on more than one occasion already this spring. UK raider West Wind Blows is another with a chance.

At about the $2.10 mark, it is a toss of a coin whether he should be backed or not. This is the most likely time to get him turned over, but he possesses the serious class that should see him home in front. 

Whatever happens on Saturday, it is only an opening salvo towards a tilt at The Cox Plate. The Valley is the number one aim of the trip, where Mr Brightside will wait for him. This clash is an exciting one on paper and could be one of the races of the season. 

Seeing a champion from another racing jurisdiction is always hugely exciting. Romantic Warrior hits Flemington with huge Cox Plate ambitions for later in the spring and puts his lofty reputation on the line in a must-see race in the Turnbull Stakes on Saturday.