Armed with an impressive arsenal of Group 1 mounts at Sha Tin on Sunday (25 April), Vincent Ho is chasing perfection aboard Golden Sixty as the Hong Kong star bids for a 14th consecutive win when he contests the HK$20 million Group 1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) against only five rivals.
Unbeaten since defeat in a 1400m Class 3 contest on 7 July 2019, Golden Sixty will return to the fray at the weekend in quest of a 17th victory overall and a fourth successive Group 1 triumph.
Ho, who partnered the 2020 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner in light work at Sha Tin on Friday (23 April), is wary of tactical ambush in a small field featuring last year’s FWD Champions Mile winner Southern Legend, Ka Ying Star, Mighty Giant, More Than This and Healthy Happy.
“With less horses, it’s less complicated but you never under-estimate the challenge. You always have to ride perfectly,” Ho said of the impending challenge.
“He’ll settle anywhere he’s comfortable in the run. There are a couple of horses who are likely to go forward, but I don’t think the pace will be fast.
“It might not be a normal race, but we can adapt to whatever comes up.”
Ho typically reserves Golden Sixty for a withering finishing surge, often breaking 22 seconds for the final 400m.
Ho said Francis Lui’s champion was in fine fettle after this morning’s (Friday, 23 April) breeze up.
“I’m happy. I just had an easy gallop over six furlongs on him this morning and everything is good,” Ho said. “There are no any concerns over him in any way.
“He feels very good.”
Ho will also partner Stronger for Douglas Whyte in the HK$18 million Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).
Narrowly beaten by longshot Amazing Star in the Group 2 Sprint Cup (1200m) at Sha Tin on 5 April, Stronger stamped his credentials by charging from the ruck to fail by only a short head.
Ho is upbeat about the Not A Single Doubt colt’s hopes based on that performance.
“Stronger is going well and Douglas is happy,” Ho said. “The barrier draw of eight is good and we should hopefully get a nice run from there.”
Whyte, who is chasing a maiden Group 1 as a trainer after a stellar riding career, expects another elite performance from Stronger.
“He’s feeling great, he’s a very uncomplicated horse. He’s a beautiful horse to be around and working with. He’s a typical sprinter. You just have to ask him to do it slowly because he wants to do it quick,” Whyte said.
“He’s got age on his side, he’s only a young (four-year-old) horse and he’s very talented.
“From the gate, Vincent should be able to get him somewhere relaxed and his best asset is to have the last crack at them.
“He’s always given me the feel that he’s a proper horse. He just lacks a bit of height – if he was a hand higher, he would have been a serious horse – but having said that, he’s capable of handling himself well.
“He’s continued to develop mentally and physically.
“This is what it’s all about. These Group 1 races are what makes and breaks us as jockeys and trainers.”
Triumphant aboard Southern Legend for Caspar Fownes in last year’s FWD Champions Mile, Ho is hopeful he can figure strongly aboard Loves Only You in the Group 1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m).
“Loves Only You has settled very well and if she brings her form from Dubai, I think she will be very, very competitive,” Ho said of the Japanese raider.
“It’s definitely a great opportunity, so bring it on.”