Over the challenging 2040m course at The Valley, Romantic Warrior vindicated Shum's trust in a thrilling $5 million Group 1 showdown.
The victory marks a significant milestone, as Romantic Warrior becomes the first Hong Kong-trained horse to claim the Ladbrokes Cox Plate.
Danny Shum, lovingly referred to as the 'Iron Man' in Hong Kong for his relentless work ethic, joins an elite group of northern hemisphere trainers who have conquered the century-old Cox Plate. The distinguished list includes Aidan O'Brien (Adelaide - 2014), Japan's Yoshito Yahagi (Lys Gracieux - 2019), and Joseph O'Brien (State Of Rest - 2021).
Expressing his joy and satisfaction, Shum said, "It has big meaning for me as a trainer. It makes me happy. I’m more happy than I can tell you."
For James McDonald, this victory is particularly special, as he secured back-to-back Cox Plate wins in Melbourne, having triumphed last year aboard Anamoe.
McDonald's achievement marks the first instance of a jockey winning the race in successive years on different horses since Michael Clarke in 1989-90.
"I showed belief. This horse is pretty special to me," McDonald remarked of Romantic Warrior. He commended the courage of owner Peter Lau and trainer Danny Shum, noting the challenges of competing in Hong Kong's highly competitive racing environment.
Co-trainer Ben Hayes of Mr Brightside conceded that he initially believed his gelding had claimed victory on the line before the photo finish revealed the opposite.
Despite the disappointment, Hayes praised the horse's remarkable performance, hinting at the possibility of a re-match and a potential journey to Hong Kong.
In an earlier race, short-priced favourite Imperatriz dominated the $2 million Manikato Stakes, achieving her fourth victory in as many starts at The Valley.
With a commanding performance and Opie Bosson in the saddle, the star Kiwi mare secured her seventh Group 1 triumph, further solidifying her status as a racing sensation.
Trainer Mark Walker expressed confidence in Imperatriz's performance, emphasizing that she had the race under control from an early stage. The victory in the Manikato Stakes marks yet another glorious chapter in the mare's illustrious career.">