Preparing for a return in next month's HK$32 million Group 1 Hong Kong Mile (1600m), Golden Sixty – an eight-year-old with 25 wins from 29 starts – dazzled with his customary late dash to cross the line first in his heat in 1:10.57 over 1200m on dirt.
“He's still very light on his legs, he doesn't feel like an eight-year-old – he's amazing. He still feels young, competitive and when I ask him to pick up there is no turbo lag, it's an instant reaction – it's so good,” Ho said.
Ho returns to competition following suspension on Wednesday night at Happy Valley. The Francis Lui-trained Golden Sixty and Ho are aiming to win a third Hong Kong Mile together following their triumphs in 2020 and 2021 on 10 December at the HK$118 million Hong Kong International Races.
However, this time they'll try to do so first-up after what will be a 224-day break, with Lui opting against chasing a fourth straight HK$5.35 million Group 2 BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile (1600m) victory with his horse this Sunday.
“He felt good. I'm glad the horse that played up in the barriers didn't affect us. He jumped well as usual, travelled nice and in the straight he gave me a good feel when I asked him to pick up – I'm happy with his progress,” Ho said.
Golden Sixty holds the record for the most Group 1 wins in Hong Kong (nine), he is also the city's highest earner in history with HK$147.93 million banked, while last season he defeated Romantic Warrior – last month's Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) winner – twice in successive Group 1 races at Sha Tin over 1600m and 2000m.
Ho, 33, was striking at 19% with eight wins from 42 rides before his outing. He has seven mounts at the city circuit tomorrow, including Karma.
“It's been a long wait. I'm happy to be back on horses in races,” Ho said. “He's a nice horse, it's his first time at Happy Valley. I hope he handles the track ok, if he handles the track, he will also be very competitive.
“He's young, up and coming, he has potential and he's fit – ready to rock and roll. It's just uncertain whether he'll handle the track.”
The last-start winning chestnut weighs in at 1,220lb as the race's heaviest horse. He is a two-time winner from five starts in Hong Kong for trainer Caspar Fownes.
Ho also rides Valhalla, Explosive Witness, Galvanic, Happy Day, Galaxy Witness and Capital Delight, while today he rode Straight Arron to a midfield finish at the trials.
“Caspar put blinkers on him just to try and sharpen him up this morning. He's feeling very well, in the straight I tried to go through horses and do something different with him and he didn't hesitate around them.
“He was strong in the finish and 2000 (metres) is his distance now. I'm looking forward to it, he should perform well,” Ho said.
The jockey will partner the stayer in Sunday's HK$5.35 million Group 2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin. Fownes also saddles Senor Toba in the same race.