Romanised giving all the right signals ahead of career finale in Hong Kong

Ken Condon’s staff flown out on private jet due to Covid ahead of Romanised’s arrival

Shane Foley on Romanised winning the Tattersalls Ireland 2,000 Guineas  at the Curragh in 2018. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Shane Foley on Romanised winning the Tattersalls Ireland 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh in 2018. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

The 2018 Irish 2, 000 Guineas hero Romanised could have a glorious swansong to his racing career in Hong Kong on Sunday, although he has already given those looking after him a taste of how the other half live.

Trainer Ken Condon will watch from home as his stable star lines up for the Longines Hong Kong Mile but his two staff on duty at the Sha Tin track have already had a trip to remember.

Mark Burke and Seán Mooney had a private jet to themselves when flying to Hong Kong on Friday ahead of Romanised arriving there for this Sunday’s prestigious international meeting.

Aidan O’Brien has three horses set to run at the meeting, including the shock Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia who will line up alongside Romanised, and his staff were also flown privately to Hong Kong.

Such extravagant travel arrangements were prompted by coronavirus travel restrictions and the Hong Kong Jockey Club is picking up the tab.

Exemptions

“There are exemptions for staff accompanying horses but to get them there are strict protocols in place, part of which is they didn’t want them flying on commercial airlines.

“So the Hong Kong Jockey Club underwrote the cost of flying staff privately. That’s the lengths they’re going to.

“They [Burke and Mooney] had a Gulfstream 650 to themselves – the last fella on it was Johnny Depp, I’m told!” Condon said on Monday.

“We assumed they’d fly together, our two lads, the four from Ballydoyle, and the people from France, but they [HKJC] said no, they would do it separately.

“The thought process is that if anyone did come down [with Covid-19] none of the staff would be allowed near the horses and that would be a disaster. It just shows how detailed the preparation is.

“The lads are restricted to their hotel room if they’re not at the track. There’s no mingling with the local population. They’re basically accompanied to and from the track four times a day. It’s a very controlled environment,” the Curragh trainer added.

On Monday Romanised stretched his legs under Mooney on the all-weather course and is giving all the right signals ahead of a career finale before starting a new career at stud next year.

The horse, who also won at the highest level in last year’s Prix Jacques Le Marois, was beaten in a warm-up race at Dundalk last month and is a general 33-1 shot for Sunday’s big race.

The local star Golden Sixty is an odds-on favourite.

“Golden Sixty looks very good, and it is an away game for us, but I think 33-1 are dismissive odds. If Romanised at his best turns up – and Dundalk has brought him forward – I’d be hopeful he will out-run those odds,” Condon said.

The horse’s owner, billionaire businessman, Robert Ng, lives in Hong Kong and will be able to see Romanised in the flesh for the first time.

Romanised will be Condon’s first runner in Hong Kong and regular partner Billy Lee again takes the ride.

O’Brien’s other Sha Tin runners are Magical, who is an 11-4 favourite for the Longines Cup over 10 furlongs, while Mogul lines up for the Vase over a mile and a half.

Irish successes

Ireland’s champion trainer has already won the Vase on two occasions with Highland Reel successful in both 2015 and 2017 at the final big international flat meeting of the year.

The only Irish successes at the international carnival have been Jim Bolger’s Alexander Goldrun, winner of the Cup in 2004, and Dermot Weld’s Additional Risk who won there in 1991.

Separately, the final four races cancelled due to fog at Sunday’s John Durkan programme in Punchestown will be run off as part of an additional meeting at the Co Kildare track this Friday.

Horse Racing Ireland confirmed the arrangements on Monday with two extra contests added and provision made for a seven-race programme if there is a divide.

Before that, action will take place at Punchestown on Tuesday where the headline act looks to be the jumping debut of the Irish Cesarewitch winner, Cape Gentleman.

Emmet Mullins’s ex-French star won the big flat handicap off a mark of 85 and should relish the prospect of two and a half miles on heavy ground over flights.

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