Golden Sixty (HKJC)
By Declan Schuster – Hong Kong Jockey Club
Hong Kong’s Triple Crown trail heads to Sunday week’s (26 February) G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) following Golden Sixty’s assertive win in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) at the end of last month over Romantic Warrior and California Spangle.
Gearing up to contest his third Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup – the second leg of Hong Kong’s Triple Crown – and bidding to win the race for a second time, Golden Sixty stepped out for a routine tune-up at Sha Tin’s barrier trial session this morning (Tuesday, 14 February) under jockey Vincent Ho for trainer Francis Lui.
“It was just to stretch his legs and have a normal gallop at some sort of pace, everything went well. He’s been very well, he felt normal. So we’ll probably have one more grass gallop next week and that’ll be it,” Ho said.
Lengthening under Ho, Hong Kong’s champion clocked 1m 11.04s for his effort in fifth position on the dirt over 1200m as he prepares to meet Romantic Warrior for a second encounter, however, this time over his rival’s optimum trip: 2000m.
“It’s going to be tougher – Romantic Warrior is a good horse and he’s proven over 2000 metres. The time he ran (in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup, 2000m) was exceptional, it’s not easy but we’ll do our best and let’s see,” Ho said.
Sunday week’s contest will be the fourth time Golden Sixty has raced over 10 furlongs at Sha Tin, previously winning the 2020 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) and 2021 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup before his third placing behind Russian Emperor in the 2022 edition of the race under torrential rain.
“Hopefully it’s a normal Sha Tin track, which will help him,” Ho said.
Romantic Warrior was imperious with a record-setting victory in the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup last December to become the race’s widest margin winner in history before his brave second to Golden Sixty last start, which came as only the second defeat of his career.
“Golden Sixty’s action, everything is still very good. He’s mentally more mature which is a great thing, so physically there’s not much disadvantage but mentally we gain a lot. We just have to do our best and see which horse comes out better. Romantic Warrior is probably better than us over 2000 metres,” Ho said.
Hong Kong’s Triple Crown concludes with the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) in May. If Golden Sixty is successful in the next two legs – should he contest them both – he will reward connections with a HK$10 million bounty for his efforts as the second successor in history after River Verdon (1994).
Sunday week’s fixture also sees the second leg of Hong Kong’s three-race Four-Year-Old Classic Series with the running the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).
Entrants for the race: Tuchel, Bon’s A Pearla, Flagship Warrior, Beautyverse and Sweet Encounter all stretched their legs amongst Golden Sixty in batch one this morning.