Golden Sixty took the first step on his path toward the 2020 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races with an impressive win in the Group 3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin Sunday (27 September), thwarting Beauty Generation’s tilt at a fourth straight triumph in the race.
Hong Kong’s first Pattern race this season was billed as the clash between Beauty Generation and Golden Sixty and it did not disappoint, with the latter reigning supreme for trainer Francis Lui and jockey Vincent Ho.
“I think at the moment he is the best horse that I have trained – he’ll step up in distance to 1600 metres now and then of course the target is the Hong Kong International Races,” Lui said.
The Medaglia d’Oro gelding made the most of the 17 pounds he received off the two-time Horse of the Year, Beauty Generation (133lb), who finished a dead-heat second alongside Champion’s Way by one and three quarter lengths.
“It’s very exciting to be back on him (Golden Sixty), he felt great and fresh today – once I got a clear run I knew he’d run them down,” Ho said. “I think he is one of the best horses in Hong Kong at the moment.”
With his devastating turn-of-foot on display once again, the newly turned five-year-old made it eight wins in a row, following on from his Four-Year-Old Classic Series clean sweep which culminated with Derby glory.
After breaking cleanly Golden Sixty was snagged back to settle worse than midfield while Beauty Generation, under the guidance of Zac Purton, would stalk the leading duo on the rail.
As the field turned for home; Golden Sixty quickened when asked, while Beauty Generation hit traffic and had to bullock his way clear to share second prize.
“He pulled up well, it was a good blow for him – he needed that, I think he was around 70 to 75 percent fit before this run and after this he should go up even more, of course with the aim of December,” Ho said.
Trainer David Hayes spoke of Beauty Generation’s performance post-race: “We knew it was always going to be a big ask to give a young champion like Golden Sixty so much weight but I thought Beauty Generation would have finished a clear second with a better run and I’m very happy with the way he went,” he said.
“The big handicap at a mile is obviously an option but, as I said before the race today, he’s going to be at his very best when the big set weights races come around in November and December,” Hayes said in reference to a possible next run in Group 2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m) on 18 October.
But it wasn’t altogether smooth sailing for the winning camp, as Lui spoke of his concerns pre-race as his stable star danced and buzzed around the parade ring before the race.
“I was worried about him before the race in the parade ring because he was so excited but in the race he was under control,” Lui said.
The December riches on offer for Golden Sixty are the $25 million Hong Kong Mile or the HK$28 million Hong Kong Cup, should Lui opt to step up to the Derby distance of 2000m again.
“He looks like he is more mature – at the moment his best is between 1600 metres and 2000 metres,” Lui said.
Before his end-of-year aspirations, the Australian-bred could next target the Group 2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m) which may see a rematch with Beauty Generation, who has won two of the past three editions of the HK$4.5 million contest.
Earlier on the fixture, Ho also won on the Jimmy Ting-trained Go Goal Toby who scored a maiden success in the Class 4 Swallow Handicap (1400m), surprising at odds of +3700.
Teetan takes three
Karis Teetan continued his strong start to the 2020/21 racing season with a winning treble which was completed with victory aboard impressive juvenile, Lucky Express in the Class 2 Hwamei Handicap (1200m).
Although winless at the two previous meetings, Teetan had already bagged eight wins and today added three more to skip into second on the jockeys’ premiership table.
“You never know coming into the day – I thought I had ok rides but it’s nice after two meetings blank to bounce back with a treble – especially on some nice horses,” Teetan said.
Teetan wrapped up his three-timer with a barnstorming victory aboard Lucky Express, the Toronado gelding rattling over the top to score by three quarters of a length but Teetan didn’t expect to have a ride in the race, let alone partner the winner.
“I had no ride in the race so when Mr Size sent me a message, I confirmed it straight away,” Teetan said, “the way he was running last season he looked like he was going to get better and I appreciate Mr Size’s support – it’s nice to sit on a horse like that.”
The Australian-bred arrived in Hong Kong with two wins from three starts in Australia, amassing an eye-catching AU$681,250 in the process (approx. HK$3.8 million) when previously known as Prince Of Sussex.
Teetan kicked off his treble with victory aboard California Concord in the Class 3 Magpie Handicap (1200m, dirt).
“I thought from the wide gate we had to work all-the-way because the way the track was playing; any other horse caught four-wide would have thrown the towel in but he kept on fighting nicely,” Teetan said of the Tony Cruz-trained galloper.
Teetan grabbed his second win of the day aboard Big Fortune in the Class 3 Lark Handicap (1200m) for trainer Douglas Whyte.
Trainer Tony Millard further improved his already excellent record with acquisitions from other stables when Galactic took the Class 4 Shrike Handicap (1200m) under Antoine Hamelin.
“He’s a very nice horse, he just lacked a bit of confidence and he just needed a bit of time,” Millard said.
The handler and jockey combine for the second time this season following the success of Prince Of Gems at the season-opening fixture, also a stable transfer.
“He’s a big lanky type of horse and with those type of horses you have to be careful you don’t get them too fat but as long as their muscle to weight ratio is good then you have a chance,” Millard said.
Earlier on the program, apprentice Matthew Poon got off the mark for the new season with victory for his master, David Hall aboard Charge On in the Class 4 Swallow Handicap (1400m).
“It was close, I think he isn’t 100 per cent fit – he got tired at the end but he finished off really well and managed to hold on,” Poon said, “the good draw helped him a lot – he’s still young so he can keep improving. I believe he has plenty of ability.”
Bella Baby grabbed the opener for Neil Callan and Chris So, the Class 5 Tailorbird Handicap; while Hong Kong’s champion jockey Zac Purton took the second of the Class 5 contests, the Woodpecker Handicap (1400m), aboard Super Winner for Dennis Yip.
Trainer Richard Gibson notched his third win this season as he took the first dirt race on the card, the Class 4 Sunbird Handicap (1200m) thanks to a well-judged front-running ride from apprentice Jerry Chau aboard Blotting Paper, who sports silks made famous by 2012 W.S Cox Plate winner Ocean Park.