Shinn has ‘Sixty’ in his sights setting up an epic Mile clash

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Blake Shinn

subscribes to the theory that nothing is permanent in racing as he mounts the most serious challenge yet to the incredible Golden Sixty in the HK$22 million FWD Champions Mile (1600m) at on Sunday.

Shinn will be aboard the Pierre Ng-trained Galaxy Patch, a young import who turned in an astonishing performance to come from last to finish a neck second to Massive in the Hong Kong Derby (2000m) last month.

The four-year-old was given a supplementary entry for the Classic after owner Yeung Kin Man made a late decision to switch him from sprinting to staying. Incredibly, he went 1000 metres, 1400 metres to 2000 metres in three bounds — an unconventional path to the coveted race, to say the least.

The run convinced Australia-based Shinn that Galaxy Patch is exceptional. “He's one of the most exciting horses in Hong Kong, for sure. He is definitely untapped.”

The continues: “It was remarkable what he did in the Derby, given his preparation into the race. Not many horses, I believe, could run like that with his ‘prep'.

“Full credit to Pierre for having the belief in the horse that he could do that, and we almost won the race…testament to the horse and Pierre.”

Coming off that outstanding run, Galaxy Patch now has Golden Sixty in his sights, with Shinn bullish about his prospects, especially with the champion returning after an injury setback that has prevented him running for four months.

“Golden Sixty can't stay at the top forever,” Shinn reckons. “So, hopefully, my bloke is the new kid on the block, who can step up and be the next horse to take the mantle as one of the best in Hong Kong.

“He looks to have come on nicely, and I think that run in the Derby showed the horse's ability, and that holds him in good stead to hopefully give the champion Golden Sixty a shake in this race at the weekend.

“Galaxy Patch seemed to run the 2000 metres out pretty good but, realistically, anything from 1200 metres to a mile is going to be his strongest distance,” he points out.

Shinn earned his stripes in Hong Kong during a stay that saw him produce some brilliant pieces of riding. One was his Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) win two years ago aboard Russian Emperor, seeing off Golden Sixty on a rain-affected track.

With Zac Purton and Joao Moreira having the pick of the rides in most races during that period, -winning jockey made the most of his opportunities.

Once settled back home, Shinn excelled and was crowned Melbourne's champion jockey last season, as well as picking up the Scobie Breasley medal for consistent all-round performance at the highest level.

He currently trails Damian Lane by a significant margin in this season's championship but hasn't given up all hope of retaining his title. “Damian has a stranglehold on it at the moment. He's 14 or 15 ahead, but I've managed to pull him back from 30 wins. So that lead has been halved in the last three months,” he explains.

“It's unlikely that I'm going to win it. But there's still time and I'll be fighting right to the end. We'll see what the numbers are by mid-June.”

The racing season ends in all Australia States and Territories on July 31.

Shinn will be fully focussed on Sha Tin after flying overnight from Adelaide, via Melbourne, after riding at the important meeting, featuring the Robert Sangster Stakes and the South Australian Oaks.

On Sunday, he rides for Ng in the Group 1 Prize (1200m) as well as taking other mounts on the Champions Day card trained by and Caspar Fownes.

“I love coming back to Hong Kong,” Shinn declares. “It's exciting just to be in the place. I've got some great supporters there. Hong Kong has a special place in my heart.”

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