Ad Romantic Warrior looking well after morning trackwork at Werribee. (George Sal/Racing Photos)

Rating Romantic Warrior

5 October 2023 Written by Trent Crebbin – Racing & Sports

Hong Kong star Romantic Warrior is one of the better credentialed horses to come to Australia. How does he fit in over here, compared to others we’ve seen?

10 wins from 14 starts, 3 Group 1’s and some $15 million (AUD) in prize money are the stats that describe Romantic Warrior, who is set to make his Australian debut in Saturday’s Group 1 TAB Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.

He’s one of the best international raiders to visit our shores ever, according to Timeform’s international ratings. Racing And Sports assigned him a rating of 126 in the Group 1 QEII Cup (2000m) where he beat Dubai Honour by 2.5 lengths.

He’s also run to 125 on two occasions, once more over 2000m and once over a mile, the latter in which he ran second to superstar miler Golden Sixty.

Racing And Sports expert Hong Kong form analyst Jaike Altieri says Romantic Warrior is “one of the best in Hong Kong- only Lucky Sweynesse and Golden Sixty would have ratings better than him and they are consistently around the top of the world rankings.”

So, what does that all mean? The quickest and easiest comparison for Australian fans is our top-rated horses by Timeform.

On peak performance alone, that is currently I Wish I Win, rated 127 off his win in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m). Star racehorse turned stallion Anamoe was rated 126 but ran to 125+ on five occasions.

There have been plenty of classy horses to venture to our shores. Benbatl was rated 129 off his Group 1 Dubai World Cup (1800m) win and would match that when second to superstar mare Winx in her fourth Cox Plate while Japanese star mare Lys Gracieux was rated 125 prior to coming here, a number she matched in her Cox Plate win.

Over a bit further we saw the 130 rated Septimus (once), 128 rated Yeats (once) and 127 rated Vinnie Roe (thrice) all tackle the Group 1 Melbourne Cup to no avail.

Few Hong Kong horses have come here, and only one has won. Cape Of Good Hope was a 125-rated sprinter who won the former William Reid Stakes, the Group 1 Australia Stakes (1200m).

Mighty High, trained by John Moore when racing there, was rated 123 before coming to Australia but couldn’t hit the scoreboard in three runs here.

Saturday will be interesting. Romantic Warrior might not be 100% screwed down and will need to be somewhere near his best, considering the unique set weights and penalties nature of the TAB Turnbull Stakes.

Northerly, ridden by Greg Childs, winning 2002 Turnbull Stakes from Dash For Cash, running to a rating of 122. (Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

Since the turn of the century, just two horses have carried the full 59kg to win a Turnbull – Zipping in 2010 (who edged out Shocking, also carrying 59kg) and Northerly in 2002.

Zipping was rated an identical 126 to Romantic Warrior and ran to that in his Turnbull win while Northerly was rated 129 but only needed to run to 122 to win the 2002 Turnbull, which is probably around what Romantic Warrior will need to do.

“There are so many variables regarding Romantic Warrior and that's what makes him coming here so exciting,” Altieri adds.

“His current peak rating is just an 'average' Cox Plate winner, but getting him away from the same horses he races every start in Hong Kong means a new peak could be incoming.”

Romantic Warrior may be allowed a length or two leeway on Saturday, but any more off his best and the locals, of which there is quality littered throughout, may quickly burst his bubble.

Zipping rated 126 in the 2010 Turnbull Stakes, edging out 2009 Melbourne Cup winner Shocking. (Matthew Mallett/Getty Images)