Romantic Warrior's HK Derby result confirms 4yo form
Romantic Warrior and California Spangle dominated the Derby lead-ups and a stirring finish to the grand final confirmed that dominance.
In the lead-up, the Derby did not look to have a lot of depth and that was confirmed but the winner's 94 rating points to at least the quinella runners being legitimate G1 horses going ahead.
It isn't up with the very best figure returned by recent Derby winners but that partly comes down to the way California Spangle's current racing style compromises every runner's finishing speed. Like the Classic Mile and Classic Cup, California Spangle led in sectionals lengths faster than average for each of the first three 400m sections. That led to the winner running the second-fastest time for the Derby, since it went to 2000m, on a track running close to standard. Golden Sixty remains the fastest Derby by 0.25s but the track for that Derby was much faster than standard - on adjusted times, Romantic Warrior went far quicker.
And that's why this year's Derby also featured one of the slowest final 400m sectionals ever. Industrial Pioneer (2001) and Viva Pataca (2006) were slower but on significantly rain-softened ground. The only other Derby to run home slower was Vital King's race in 2007.
The way California Spangle races, even horses in the finish are out on their feet, a drag on their rating, and 94 was a good figure in those circumstances while the runner-up will improve on his 92 when he learns to use his speed more efficiently.