Golden Sixty, Lucky Sweynesse Fill Top 10 in LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings

January 23, 2024

Golden Sixty with Vincent Ho wins the Longines Hong Kong Mile December 10, at Sha Tin Racecourse. (Alex Evers/HKJC)

Romantic Warrior and California Spangle ranked in top 15 as all 12 of Hong Kong’s Group 1s in the World’s Top 100 Group 1 Races 

HKJC Press Release

HAPPY VALLEY, H.K.—Four of Hong Kong’s elite racing stars – Golden Sixty, Lucky Sweynesse, Romantic Warrior and California Spangle – have ranked inside the top 15 in the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings 2023 (WBRR), released by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) on Tuesday, 23 January.

Record-breaking eight-year-old Golden Sixty leads the way for Hong Kong in the WBRR standings in sixth place with a career-high mark of 126 after his extraordinary win in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin on 10 December.

Francis Lui’s champion started only four times in 2023 and won all his Group 1 assignments – the Stewards’ Cup, G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m), G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) and the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile – to finish the year ranked joint sixth with Westover, behind only Equinox (135), Ace Impact and Mostahdaf (equal second, 128) and Big Rock and Hukum (joint fourth, 127).

Manfred Man’s Lucky Sweynesse shared eighth place overall on a mark of 125 with dual Derby winner Auguste Rodin, while California Spangle and Romantic Warrior ranked equal 15th alongside Onesto and Luxembourg on a figure of 123.

Lucky Sweynesse was acclaimed as the world’s leading sprinter after victories in the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m), G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m), G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) and the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) in an incredible display of sustained excellence.

Lucky Sweynesse is a four-time Group 1 winner. (Alex Evers/HKJC)
Lucky Sweynesse is a four-time Group 1 winner. (Alex Evers/HKJC)

A total of 14 Hong Kong horses achieved a mark of 115 or higher.

Apart from Golden Sixty, Lucky Sweynesse, Romantic Warrior and California Spangle, Voyage Bubble (119), Straight Arron (118), Russian Emperor (116), Wellington (116), Beauty Eternal (115), Beauty Joy (115), Senor Toba (115), Sight Success (115), Waikuku (115) and Sword Point (115) also secured places in the elite.

Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Hong Kong has achieved yet another outstanding result in terms of elite horse performance, particularly when you consider that there are about only 1,200 horses currently in training.

“Golden Sixty is Hong Kong’s idol and his performance in the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile remains one of the most remarkable displays I have seen from any horse, let alone an eight-year-old. He is a credit to his trainer Francis Lui and jockey Vincent Ho.

“Lucky Sweynesse has proved to be a world-class benchmark in the sprinting category, which is a difficult thing to achieve anywhere but especially in Hong Kong where the sprinting ranks are always deep. Manfred Man has done a wonderful job in taking Lucky Sweynesse through the grades and now to the summit of world sprint racing.”

Like Golden Sixty, Japanese superstar Equinox also started only four times in 2023, winning all four races, including four of the top six races in the world’s Top 100 contests – the Japan Cup, G1 Dubai Sheema Classic (2410m), G1 Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) and the G1 Tenno Sho Autumn (2000m) – to achieve his towering mark of 135.

World’s Top 100 Group 1 Races

In a remarkable result, Hong Kong staged four of the world’s top 20 races in 2023 and all 12 of the city’s top-level races featured in the World’s Top 100 Group 1 Races for the year just ended.

Each of Hong Kong’s top-level contests returned a figure of 117 or higher, with the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m), won by Golden Sixty from Romantic Warrior, leading the way on a mark of 121.75 and ranking equal 11th behind the Japan Cup (2400m), which achieved a rating of 126.75.

Romantic Warrior wins the G1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m). (Alex Evers/HKJC)
Romantic Warrior wins the G1 W.S. Cox Plate. (Alex Evers/HKJC)

Billed as Hong Kong’s ‘Race of the Century’ with the clash between three of the jurisdiction’s champions – Golden Sixty, Romantic Warrior and California Spangle – the Stewards’ Cup was the second-ranked 1600m race in the world behind the G1 Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville in France.

The FWD Champions Mile was ranked joint 15th with the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup and the G1 Coral Eclipse (2000m) at Sandown in England. The LONGINES Hong Kong Mile was ranked joint 18th with the G1 Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs in England. 

Hong Kong’s other top-level races also figured prominently with the G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup rated joint 28th, ahead of the G1 FWD QEII Cup (equal 30th), Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (equal 33rd), LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (equal 44th), Centenary Sprint Cup (equal 55th), Chairman’s Sprint Prize (equal 55th), Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (equal 55th), and the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (equal 71st).

There are 391 Group 1 contests for horses older than the age of two eligible for ranking worldwide; while Hong Kong stages only 3.06% of these, its tally of 12 in the Top 100 places it fifth overall behind Australia (24), Great Britain (17), United States (17) and Japan (15) and ahead of France (six), Ireland (three), United Arab Emirates (three), New Zealand (two), South Africa (two) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (one).

The Japan Cup was rated the world’s best race in the World’s Top 100 Group 1 contests.

Each accredited Group 1 is ranked based on the average rating of the first four finishers from that year’s race. A panel of international handicappers determines the ratings.

Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said: “With all 12 of our Group 1 races in the World’s Top 100 G1 Races, Hong Kong has again shown that it maintains a strong position as a world leader in the sport of horse racing. The 2023 Stewards’ Cup was a remarkable contest with six individual Group 1 winners in the field. It is fitting that Hong Kong’s great champion Golden Sixty would win an unforgettable race, defeating another wonderful competitor in Romantic Warrior, California Spangle and Waikuku.

“In terms of raw emotion and fan engagement, Golden Sixty’s victory last December in the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile is forever etched in the memories of the 65,000 people on course at Sha Tin who were privileged to see arguably this astonishing horse’s finest performance.

“Having already celebrated Lucky Sweynesse’s triumph in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint, the courageous win of Romantic Warrior in the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup capped one of the most successful days in Hong Kong racing history.

“As a Club, we place great emphasis on the importance of international competition and, coupled with our world-class domestic racing, we are proud of what Hong Kong horse racing continues to achieve on the global stage.

“The 2023 year-end standings for both the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings and the World’s Top 100 Group 1 Races reflect the enormous hard work the Club does, along with the ongoing significant investments it makes, and the vital support of our owners, to ensure it maintains our position as a world racing leader especially with the quality of our racing.”

Hong Kong Jockey Club Executive Director, Racing, Mr Andrew Harding said: “The 2023 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races showed once more that Hong Kong is the place to be in December with a truly remarkable meeting. Similarly, the FWD Champions Day serves to showcase Hong Kong to the world, along with all our Group 1 meetings.

“None of this would be possible without the wonderful support of our Hong Kong owners, who make substantial investments to secure the best available horses, nor the support we receive from overseas owners and trainers, who send their horses to Hong Kong to compete against our best horses.

“From this perspective, the 2023 LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings and the World’s Top 100 Group 1 races are a resounding endorsement of Hong Kong racing.”

Hong Kong Trained Horses in World Rankings since 1998

@jonathanstettin I had goosebumps reading that. Excellent work, thank you for sharing!

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