Francis Lui is pleased as Golden Sixty trials at Sha Tin

Declan Schuster

17/10/2023 14:25

Golden Sixty stretches out on the grass.
Golden Sixty stretches out on the grass.

Trainer Francis Lui declared Golden Sixty a ‘happy horse’ ahead of his highly anticipated return this season in either the G2 BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile (1600m) on 19 November or G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) on 10 December.

Initially slated to resume in the HK$32 million LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, Lui indicated that Hong Kong’s champion could initially chase winning a fourth straight HK$5.35 million BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile after his galloper appeared in fine condition under jockey Vincent Ho at Sha Tin’s barrier trial session this morning (Tuesday, 17 October).

“We’ll see – maybe. Of course, the main target is the international. We can consider the Group 2, it all depends on how his condition is. He’ll trial again, once or twice and then we will decide,” Lui said.

Golden Sixty’s record-breaking exploits have resulted in him becoming the only nine-time Group 1 winner in Hong Kong, the highest prize money earner in history (HK$147.93 million) and the only three-straight Hong Kong Horse of the Year (2020/21, 2021/22 & 2022/23) recipient.

“He’s an older horse, a happy horse. He’s ok, Vincent was happy and said he was a little bit fat – of course, he hasn’t run for a long time,” Lui said.

The Medaglia d’Oro gelding has won 25 out of his 29 starts in Hong Kong.

Golden Sixty hits the line at Sha Tin.

Lui isn’t looking beyond his bid to capture a third LONGINES Hong Kong Mile success with Golden Sixty, instead opting to take it one run at a time beyond his main target in December with his superstar horse who collected three Group 1s last term.

“He’s an eight-year-old, I will just try to not run him too much. I’ll let the horse tell me what to do. It’s good to see him come back,” Lui said. “His character is still good, even his mind and inside the stable it is still strong.”

Golden Sixty won the 2020 and 2021 editions of the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, while California Spangle thwarted his hat-trick bid in the 2022 renewal.

California Spangle returned for a first-up victory in last Sunday’s (15 October) HK$5.35 million G2 Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m). The pair will meet again in either November, December or both contests.

2023 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner Voyage Bubble worked through the same barrier trial as Golden Sixty and trainer Ricky Yiu also returned satisfied.

“He trialled well, which I expected him to. He’s a fresh horse, he’s keen to do his job and he pulled up ok. He’s not blowing like he had a long break, he seems like he’s racing fit and the jockey (Alexis Badel) couldn’t tell that it was his first barrier trial for a long time – it’s a good sign.

“I couldn’t fault him and I am looking forward to running him in November,” Yiu said.

Voyage Bubble will return in the BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile.

Looking to more immediate targets, Lui saddles six runners at Happy Valley’s midweek fixture tomorrow night (Wednesday, 18 October).

Wonder Kit is a one-time winner in Hong Kong.
Wonder Kit is a one-time winner in Hong Kong.

Wonder Kit is chasing a second win in the second section of the Class 3 Speedy Handicap (1200m). The chestnut will step away from gate one with jockey Zac Purton assigned as Ho serves a riding suspension.

“He has a good draw. Vincent mentioned after his last run he still wasn’t concentrating, but I think the draw can help,” Lui said.

Lui is without a runner in the night’s feature – the Class 4 LONGINES Cup (1200m) – but has Call Me Dandy engaged in the finale, the first section of the Class 3 Speedy Handicap (1200m) – again with Purton aboard.

“He’s an honest horse, but you look at his last two runs, it seems that the short straight at Happy Valley might suit him,” the trainer said.

Lui has entered Stoltz in Sunday’s (22 October) HK$5.35 million G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m) after the chestnut sprinter landed a first Group 3 victory last start.

“We’ll try 1200 metres, of course his best distance is 1000 but there is no harm to try it. There’s only six runners,” Lui said.

Lucky Sweynesse, Sight Success, Victor The Winner, Duke Wai and Adios are also entered in Sunday’s Premier Bowl.

Wednesday’s (18 October) nine-race fixture at Happy Valley commences at 6.45pm with the Class 5 Success Handicap (1200m).

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