IN August 2019 Michael Kinane was appointed by the Hong Kong Jockey Club as one of its lead purchasers of youngstock in Europe.

Just a few months later Kinane spent 300,000gns at Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale on a colt from James and David Egan’s Corduff Stud in Co Kildare. That colt by Acclamation was subsequently named Romantic Warrior and on Sunday he won the €2.8 million Hong Kong Derby at Sha Tin.

It was the first Irish-bred winner of the race since Designs On Rome won it in 2014. In a further boost for Irish breeding the runner-up California Spangle was also Irish-bred, produced by Michael Enright at Cregg Castle Stud in Fermoy, Co Cork.

Last June, Romantic Warrior was sold at the Hong Kong International Sale for HK$4.8 (€550,000) and he is the first graduate of that annual sale to win the Derby. Hopefully that augurs well for both Kinane and Irish bloodstock.

This was Romantic Warrior’s sixth win in seven starts in Hong Kong and he was providing trainer Danny Shum with his first success in Hong Kong’s most coveted race.

Romantic Warrior edged out California Spangle by a head after a desperate battle between the two highest-rated horses in the field. Money Catcher was third, two and a quarter lengths away, in a slick 2m 0.23secs.

“He (Romantic Warrior) deserved to win the Derby, he is a very honest horse and very consistent. Karis did a great job, so I’m very happy,” Shum said.

Winner of the Hong Kong Classic Mile in January, Romantic Warrior’s only unplaced run came as he was caught wide when fourth behind California Spangle in the Hong Kong Classic Cup last month.

Shum will now attempt to emulate the deeds of fellow Derby winners Vengeance Of Rain (2005), Ambitious Dragon (2011), Designs On Rome (2014) and Werther (2016) with victory in the Group 1 FWD QEII Cup over 10 furlongs at Sha Tin on April 24th.

“My next plan is the Queen Elizabeth II Cup because there are no overseas horses coming and it’s the right time for him to fight the experienced horses. He can still improve this horse.

“If he wins, I’ll be happy but if he runs in the first three or four, I think it will be a good lesson for him to improve himself,” Shum said.

Revealing he had told owner Peter Lau that Romantic Warrior was the only Hong Kong International Sale entry which had taken his eye during inspections, Shum said the bay gelding was the standout from the sale.

“I would like to thank the Hong Kong Jockey Club as well for bringing this horse into the International Sale. Actually, the CEO (Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges) also said to me in the stable ‘This is the right one’, so we picked the same horse.

“Thank you to the owner Peter Lau for really supporting the ISG Sale. He always says, ‘You can buy me a good horse, but don’t buy me the wrong horse.’

“He had a good conformation and he had a very good action. I watched him every day at the ISG stable and I watched all of the horses and he was the only one to catch my eye – so I love him. I told Peter ‘He’s the only one, buy this one’.”