Golden Sixty looks to bounce back in Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup; The Irishman builds towards Classic Cup

February 8, 2022

After suffering a rare defeat – his first since July, 2019 – Golden Sixty will aim to recapture his winning thread in Sunday week’s (20 February) G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) after pleasing both jockey Vincent Ho and trainer Francis Lui in a trial at Sha Tin this morning (Tuesday, 8 February).

Stepping out cleanly under Ho, Hong Kong’s champion let rip down the centre of the track in fine style – crossing the line first in 58.80s over 1000m on the turf course.

“He went very well, he feels fresh – 1000 metres is not enough for him but he felt good and I’m happy with that, it was a nice piece of work,” Ho said.

Golden Sixty – earner of HK$98.09 million – had his winning streak halted at 16 after shock defeat by Waikuku in last month’s G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m).

But this morning, Francis Lui declared it’s all systems go for the galloper ahead of his HK$12 million test in 12 days’ time.

“I was happy with the trial – that was what I wanted to see, everything is fine,” Lui said.

The six-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro steps up to 2000m for the first time since winning the Hong Kong Gold Cup last year, when prevailing by a short-head to the recently retired Furore, while Exultant filled third. 

“I don’t have any concerns about the 2000 metres, there is no problem with that – we have won it before and he can relax pretty well now – hopefully we can do it again,” Ho said.

Golden Sixty has won 19 of his 21 career starts in Hong Kong, scoring five times at Group 1 level – including consecutive G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) crowns in 2020 and 2021.

He was recently rated the world’s joint-top miler in the 2021 LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.

“It’s always a good feeling no matter when I am on him – he’s a great partner, he’s such an amazing horse with his own character,” Ho said.

Since the turn of the century, only three horses have won consecutive Hong Kong Gold Cups – Viva Pataca (2008 & 2009), Military Attack (2013 & 2014) and Designs On Rome (2015 & 2016).

Both Ho and Lui are also aiming to recapture Hong Kong’s ultimate prize next month – the HK$24 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).

The pair savoured success in 2020 with Golden Sixty and this time will task The Irishman – who finished a fast-closing third last start in the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) – leg one of the lucrative Four-Year-Old Classic Series.

“I will give him a barrier trial next Tuesday (15 February) – he’s getting better and better but I’d like to teach him to relax – the target is the Hong Kong Derby,” Lui said.

The Irishman – a New Zealand-bred son of Tavistock – has raced three times in Hong Kong for three placings.

“He will be a quality horse, he’s still young and he hasn’t run too much in Hong Kong – so there’s still lots to learn but the other day he felt a bit too keen and the track bias wasn’t as good to the outside, so there are things we can look into with him but he should be better in the Classic Cup,” Ho said.

The Irishman’s next task will be the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) on Sunday, 27 February before shooting for BMW Hong Kong Derby glory on Sunday, 20 March.

This article is a must read. 1st ballot Hall of Fame horseplayer, generous teacher and heralded writer! Thanks John. twitter.com/jonathanstetti…

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