Horse racing weekend busy in Hong Kong, Japan, England, France –

Horse racing weekend busy in Hong Kong, Japan, England, France –

1 of 2 | T O Royal strides out to win Sunday’s Grade 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) at Kyoto Racecourse. Photo courtesy of Japan Racing Association

April 29 (UPI) — Romantic Warrior rules in Hong Kong, T O Royal got his first Grade 1 win in Japan, the European Group 1 season got underway in France and the British Derby field received a boost in England — all in weekend horse racing around the globe.

Please see our companion roundup for North American coverage, including about the Kentucky Derby. Here’s the rest of the world:

Hong Kong

Three of Hong Kong’s best took to the Sha Tin turf on Champions Day Sunday, but only Romantic Warrior was able to overcome wet turf and tough competition to emerge with a victory.

The winner of October’s Group 1 Cox Plate in Australia, Romantic Warrior made it three straight Group 1 wins back home with a gutsy victory in the QE II Cup at 2,000 meters.

In addition to the testing footing, Romantic Warrior never got the position jockey James McDonald sought and had to take the long route around rivals to defeat Japan’s hope, Prognosis, by a neck.

“I’m speechless. He’s awesome,” McDonald said. “He was beaten at the 600 meters. he just finds a way. It’s incredible. I dead-set didn’t have one thing go my way. I had 10 riders dead-set against me and the horse. I just had no favors.”

Massive Sovereign, winner of the BMW Hong Kong Derby in his last start, returned to Earth with an eighth-place finish in the QE II. Romantic Warrior, meantime, now has a June 2 date in Tokyo for the Group 1 Yasuda Kinen.

Hong Kong’s reigning and three-time Horse of the Year Golden Sixty fell victim to the soggy going, a long layoff and perhaps his 8 years of age as he stalled out in the Group 1 Champions Mile and finished fourth, following Beauty Eternal, Red Lion and Voyage Bubble across the finish line.

Beauty Eternal, with Zac Purton up, led right out of the gate and kept going to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

“I thought the only chance I had to beat Golden Sixty was to try to put a gap on them and see how we went,” Purton said. “Today was his day.”

Golden Sixty’s jockey, Vincent Ho, lamented, “He ran well. The ground was not in our favor. … We can’t fight the weather.”

Invincible Sage, in his first top-level start, rallied late to win the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize by 1 1/2 lengths over California Spangle, who was coming off a victory in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai.

Winning trainer David Hall acknowledged the yielding turf played a factor, but said it’s hard to judge how much influence it had on Invincible Sage’s performance.

“Until we see him do that on a firm deck, I don’t know,” Hall said.


T O Royal had the smoothest of passages to victory in Sunday’s Group 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) at Kyoto Racecourse — at 3,200 meters, the longest top-level race on the Japanese calendar.

T O Royal, who shares ownership with next Saturday’s Kentucky Derby starter T O Password, was making his first Grade 1 start, with little to show for the first two such efforts.

However, his two previous races resulted in wins at 3,200 meters and 3,000 meters — enough to make him the favorite in the Tenno Sho.

After starting smoothly, T O Royal raced just back of the leading pack through the first mile and one-half, advancing around the final turn on the outer loop of the Kyoto turf. He was in full flight when he hit the stretch and none of his rivals had enough left to mount a challenge.

“The horse raced in good rhythm and responded well going downhill after the third corner,” jockey Yuji Hishida said. “So, we were able to turn the last corner comfortably and slip out of the pack with ease.’

Blow the Horn was second. 2 lengths back. Deep Bond, who finished second in each of the past two editions of the Tenno Sho (Spring), just failed to hold on to that spot again, nosed out in the final strides.


The European Group 1 season got underway Sunday at Longchamp with the Prix Ganay and, as suggested here in our preview, the Z’s had it as Haya Zark held on gamely through the final 50 meters to win by a head over Zarir.

Haya Zark, a 5-year-old by Zarak, looks to be on an upward trajectory, posting his second win of the season in as many tries although the ground was better than his favored boggy. All of the first five finishers, separated by less than 1 length, showed promise for the remainder of the season.


Arabian Crown bounded out of the gate like a rabbit in a greyhound race in the Group 3 bet365 Classic Trial Friday at Sandown and led all the way to a 3 3/4-length win, with Macduff second.

The Godolphin homebred colt by Dubawi looked every inch a Derby prospect for jockey William Buick and trainer Charlie Appleby as he scored his fourth straight win while making his 3-year-old debut.

Friday’s Group 2 bet365 Mile at Sandown was a remarkable affair, with Charyn rallying from last to win by 1 1/4 lengths from Poker Face, with the ageless Lord North squeezed between them with 50 meters to go, then finishing third.

Charyn, a 4-year-old Dark Angel colt, made it 2-for-2 on the season for trainer Roger Varian.

Okeechobee and Ryan Moore rallied from next-last to capture the Group 3 bet365 Gordon Richard Stakes by a head from Desert Hero with the favorite, Israr, yielding late to finish third.


At Capannelle, even-money favorite Melfi took the Group 3 Italian 2000 Guineas by 3/4 length from Maturlo. The Group 3 1000 Guineas was a total upset with Beenham leading home a pack of outsiders as the favorite, Sioux Life, weakened late to finish 10th.

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