Golden Sixty’s improved manners key to G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup hopes

Leo Schlink

24/02/2023 14:51

Golden Sixty is chasing an eighth Group 1.
Golden Sixty is chasing an eighth Group 1.

Vincent Ho believes Golden Sixty’s new-found maturity will prove vital in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) on Sunday (26 February) at Sha Tin when Hong Kong’s highest-rated horse resumes a burgeoning rivalry with middle-distance star Romantic Warrior.

Returning to 2000m for the first time since finishing third behind Russian Emperor and Savvy Nine on yielding ground in last season’s Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup, Golden Sixty will face a fitter Romantic Warrior at a distance range where Danny Shum’s charge has proved devastating with G1 victories in the 2022 FWD QEII Cup and LONGINES Hong Kong Cup.

But Ho, who has enormous respect for Romantic Warrior, is confident Golden Sixty – now a seven-year-old – is far better equipped to step back to 2000m because he appears to have curbed a trend to over-race.

“He doesn’t pull at all now, so wherever he’s comfortable on Sunday in the run, that’s where we’ll be – it doesn’t matter where,” Ho said as Golden Sixty bids for a 24th win at his 28th start for Francis Lui.

“That’s the best thing about him turning seven – he’s really matured mentally and he doesn’t fight any more. He used to fight a lot, but not anymore and when I ask him for the effort, he will give it to me straight away. He’s been really good this season.

“Romantic Warrior obviously has proven very, very good at 2000 metres and he will be very hard to beat. He’s one of the best horses in Hong Kong.”

Rated 131, one point higher than Romantic Warrior, Golden Sixty will start from barrier four on Sunday, when he faces six opponents – Romantic Warrior, Tourbillon Diamond, Ka Ying Star, Money Catcher, Glorious Dragon and Panfield.

Vincent Ho drives Golden Sixty clear in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m).

Ho was pleased with Golden Sixty’s fast work on Thursday morning (23 February) when breezed over 1200m in 1m 22.05s, cruising through the final 400m in 23.7s and is hoping Sunday’s assignment produces a repeat of the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) on 29 January, when Golden Sixty blasted away from Romantic Warrior and California Spangle.

“We had two good horses in front of us that day and we could outsprint them in the final 400m and Golden Sixty won very well and he pulled up very well. His trackwork has been good and so we’re hoping he can do the same at 2000 metres,” Ho said.

“I think last start was one of his best wins. I can’t say it was the best win but we were competing with two of the best horses in Hong Kong and so it was definitely one of his best wins.

“He can still produce that sprint if everything is okay, so 2000 metres is not really a problem for him but, of course, Romantic Warrior is very good at 2000 metres, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Bidding for his second win in the race after success in 2021, Golden Sixty will attempt to match the feats of River Verdon (1994), Viva Pataca (2009) and Time Warp (2020), who won the feature as seven-year-olds.

Despite Golden Sixty’s advancing age, Ho believes the son of Medaglia d’Oro and winner of a record HK$129,690,600 prize money has the form and attitude to justify his pre-race confidence.

“When you’re on Golden Sixty, you’re definitely confident but we’ve got another very good horse racing against us – and others – so you have to be cautious,” Ho said.

Zac Purton reunites with Tuchel in the Hong Kong Classic Cup.
Zac Purton reunites with Tuchel in the Hong Kong Classic Cup.

Triumphant in the 2022 Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) after a brilliant front-running ride on California Spangle, Zac Purton will chase successive triumphs when he takes the reins on John Size-trained Tuchel in Sunday’s HK$12 million contest.

Second to Voyage Bubble and Jamie Kah in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) on 29 January, Tuchel has drawn perfectly in barrier one for Purton.

“He ran very well in the Hong Kong Classic Mile, he had a beautiful run from the gate, followed the right horse, had all the favours and did a good job,” said Purton, who has 96 wins for the season so far.

“Now, with a bit more time between runs, he’s probably been able to get into a nicer rhythm and the gate once again obviously helps him. We should be able to save a lot of ground and hopefully he gets his chance.”

Purton has ridden Tuchel in three of the gelding’s four wins and replaces Luke Currie, who will partner Size-trained stablemate Sweet Encounter.

The Hong Kong Classic Cup is the second leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic series, which culminates with the running of the HK$24 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) on 19 March at Sha Tin.

Sunday’s (26 February) 10-race card at Sha Tin starts with the Class 4 Citi Global Wealth Handicap (1650m, dirt) at 1pm.

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