Golden Sixty overhauled Romantic Warrior in a gripping finish to the HK$12 million Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin – the second leg of Hong Kong’s Triple Crown – under Vincent Ho for trainer Francis Lui.
Sporting the familiar white, blue and gold silks of owner Stanley Chan, Golden Sixty handed Romantic Warrior his first defeat over the course and distance to assert his dominance as he edged past his rival by a head in a winning time of 1:59.98.
Victorious in the 2021 Hong Kong Gold Cup as well, Golden Sixty broke cleanly under Ho before restraining to sit fifth. Money Catcher took up his customary spot in the lead, while Ka Ying Star sat to his outside with Romantic Warrior in between the lead duo.
2023 Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup Replay – Golden Sixty
Ho stalked the pace aboard Golden Sixty before stoking Hong Kong’s champion up at the turn for home – trailing Karis Teetan as he did the same atop Romantic Warrior. The pair tore clear in the straight with Golden Sixty reeling in his rival, much like he did in the first leg of the Triple Crown – the Group 1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) at the end of last month.
“He was very relaxed today, I even had to ask him a little to keep up today in the back straight and, of course, I had another great horse to follow through and ask for the full effort at the 200 (metre mark),” Ho said. “I just had to stay close with him (Romantic Warrior) and don’t let him get away too far.”
Ensuring a Triple Crown tilt remains an option, Lui declared that it will be under consideration whether Golden Sixty will be chanced with joining the great River Verdon, who accomplished the three-race sweep in 1994 with victory in the third and final leg – the Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) on 28 May.
“We’ll see. We have time to consider it because there is a long way to go – it is one of the options we have,” Lui said.
Golden Sixty is a possible to contest the Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) on 9 April before tackling either the Group 1 Champions Mile (1600m) or Group 1 QEII Cup (2000m) on FWD Champions Day (30 April). The Group 1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) on 4 June in Tokyo, Japan shapes as the Medaglia d’Oro gelding’s overseas target – should he go.
“To be honest, I expected the other horse would have beaten us but, of course, I just do my best on Golden Sixty without hurting him too much for the Champions Mile or if we go to Japan, so it’s going to take time for him to recover, aged seven now. I just don’t want to over-do it, but doing my best to (help him) perform at that level.
“He’s got a great heart and he’s always trying his best – or sometimes over his own limit – so I don’t want to overdo it,” Ho said.
This afternoon’s victory is Golden Sixty’s eighth at the top-level and enhances his all-time earnings to HK$136.53 million with an astonishing 24 wins overall from 28 starts.
“I’m very happy. In my lifetime, I think this is the best horse and I don’t think I can have another one. You can’t expect another one,” Lui said. “It’s a difficult consideration, I think (it will be Japan) if I plan to run overseas. I have to discuss it with Vincent, but of course he still thinks he’s a miler.”
Continuing to amaze on track, the 131-rated Golden Sixty – now in his seven-year-old season – was bred in Australia and sold to Lui for AU$300,000 in 2017.
“Honestly if you go to visit him, he’s the same – you have to be careful. He will bite you or he will even kick you. He’s always been like that, that’s his character,” Lui said.