History made as Golden Sixty wins third FWD Champions Mile

Declan Schuster

30/04/2023 19:56

Golden Sixty dazzles at Sha Tin.
Golden Sixty dazzles at Sha Tin.

Golden Sixty stands alone as Hong Kong’s most prolific Group 1 winner after his record-setting third G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) triumph at Sha Tin on Sunday, 30 April.

Equal with Beauty Generation’s mark of eight top-level wins before today, Golden Sixty – trained by Francis Lui – added this afternoon’s success to his wins in 2021 and 2022.

Making it an unmatched nine Group 1s for the seven-year-old by Medaglia d’Oro, jockey Vincent Ho also sealed a fourth FWD Champions Mile win in succession to become the HK$20 million contest’s leading rider after breaking his deadlock with Brett Prebble.

Adding to his brilliance in front of a packed 49,496 crowd at Sha Tin, Golden Sixty – based on current exchange rates – is ranked first for career earnings globally with HK$147,930,600, while Winx’s all-time AU$26,451,174 equates to HK$137,530,690.

“Thank you to all of the racing fans and, of course, I am really grateful to be on this horse again. He’s such a superstar and I’m just very grateful and very happy for Golden Sixty of course. Now he looks around and enjoys the crowds and his home turf,” Ho said.

“We got a sneak through the inside, one off and sort of in second position. I told myself before this race to try and enjoy every moment with Golden Sixty because he is seven now and we don’t know when he is going to retire but it’s the best way to enjoy every single step with him.

“I’m nothing without him. All of the credit goes to Golden Sixty,” Ho said.

Vincent Ho celebrates the win aboard Golden Sixty.
Vincent Ho celebrates the win aboard Golden Sixty.

The winner of 25 races from 29 starts, Golden Sixty landed his third Group 1 crown this term in a time of 1m 33.34s ahead of Beauty Joy and California Spangle, respectively.

“It’s always my honour to be on him. I’m happy for the horse and happy for the crowds that come to support him. He’s just an amazing horse,” Ho said. “He’s going as well as ever. There’s no sign of him dropping in performance.”

Stepping away cleanly under Ho, Hong Kong’s two-time Horse of the Year (2020/21 & 2021/22) steadily stole ground mid-race and between runners before taking command with roughly 400m left to run.

“The only thing I can say is happy. He’s such a good horse with a good fighting heart. He gives me confidence,” Lui said. “Vincent had his own plan, I didn’t disturb him. Before the race, we didn’t talk about how to run because he knows this horse well and I don’t have to teach him.”

Golden Sixty surges clear for Vincent Ho.

Speaking of longevity, Lui declared that Golden Sixty’s future runs could be spaced even further apart and while a shot at Hong Kong’s Triple Crown remains open in next month’s G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) on 28 May, Lui expects Golden Sixty’s next major target to be a third win in December’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m).

“Now we just keep a little bit longer in between races, before we could keep racing – even some of the Group 3 races – but now we just pick the Group 1 races,” Lui said.

The official margin was one and a half lengths. Golden Sixty – rated 131 in Hong Kong – was sent around as a dominant 1.4 favourite to win today, his shortest quote across all of his five runs this season.

Of Beauty Joy’s effort, jockey Hugh Bowman said: “Delighted, no surprise to see him do that. He enjoyed that even tempo. It wasn’t frantic, it was consistent, which is what he needs.”

California Spangle led the race early before fading to third under jockey Zac Purton: “He ran well, he just got annoyed the whole race. They were at him and he sort of didn’t get a chance to switch off.”

Golden Sixty’s previous Group 1 wins this term came in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) and G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) – the first two legs of Hong Kong’s Triple Crown.

Prior to Golden Sixty’s FWD Champions Mile three-peat, Ho bagged a first win in the race in 2020 aboard Southern Legend.

Hong Kong racing continues this Wednesday (3 May) at Happy Valley.

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