Timeless champion Golden Sixty wins third LONGINES Hong Kong Mile

Declan Schuster

10/12/2023 20:05

Golden Sixty salutes under jockey Vincent Ho.
Golden Sixty salutes under jockey Vincent Ho.

The Pride of Hong Kong – Golden Sixty – landed a record-tying third HK$32 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) triumph this afternoon (Sunday, 10 December) as a crowd of 65,252 people packed Sha Tin to cheer for their hometown hero.

Returning first-up after a 224-day break between runs, Golden Sixty – an eight-year-old – showed no signs of slowing down with age as jockey Vincent Ho masterfully overcame the widest of 14 barriers to prevail as 2.3 favourite in 1m 34.10s – a length and a half ahead of Voyage Bubble – while Japan’s Namur was third.

“He’s a monster. When I asked him for an effort, he lengthened like I can’t believe – he’s still got that turn of foot. It’s crazy,” Ho said.

Trained by Francis Lui, Golden Sixty joins Good Ba Ba as the race’s second three-time winner, following his victories in 2020 and 2021.

“It’s amazing. I got the three-wide with cover, where I wanted to be and he knows his racing now. He’s never travelled keen with me, he was relaxed all of the way and then when I asked him for an effort, he just gave me 100 percent. 

“It’s a great team effort, so thanks to all of the team. It’s not easy to come here at a high level without any preparation.” Ho said.

Slotting in from his draw to travel wide throughout, Ho asked Golden Sixty for an effort at the 400m mark and his answer was immediate – dashing clear by nearly four lengths.

Golden Sixty roars home under Vincent Ho.

“He’s not eight – he feels like he’s four. I can’t believe it. I was confident, even from gate 14 as long as I could get into the right position. Everything just went pretty ideal – I visualised this and it happened,” Ho said.

Victory is the Medaglia d’Oro gelding’s 26th at his 30th start, his 10th Group 1 – a Hong Kong record – and enhances his all-time earnings to HK$165.85 million, while Romantic Warrior (HK$119.79 million) and Beauty Generation (HK$106 million) are the only other horses to earn over HK$100 million.

“The whole team did a massive job. For me, of course the next race is the Stewards’ Cup (G1, 1600m) and then the Champions Mile (G1, 1600m). They are talking about retiring the horse. Of course, it looks like the right thing to do – he has achieved so much – but if he is still performing like this and he loves his racing so much, is it the right thing to take away what he loves?

“We will of course have to think about that as well. He’s a horse who loves racing – he enjoys it, he enjoys the crowd and as long as he is healthy and competitive, we are happy.

“A lot of people were saying the age of eight is a concern, but to be honest I never doubted him. We’ve looked after him, we’re not running him with top weight in handicaps, and this year he’s only going to race in three races. He’s so amazing when he runs fresh. He’s just an amazing horse,” Ho said.

Vincent Ho returns victorious with Golden Sixty.
Vincent Ho returns victorious with Golden Sixty.

The 131-rater is slated to retire following his next two runs in 2024, firstly in the Stewards’ Cup on 21 January and FWD Champions Mile on 28 April.

“He is my champion. I think he enjoyed the race – he knew what to do. I was happy with how he improved in every barrier trial. He showed good fighting heart,” Lui said.

“Our team did a good job, they looked after the horse very well. I have to say thank you to my team.”

Jockey James McDonald was pleased with 2023 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner Voyage Bubble’s effort to finish second.

“That was unbelievable. It was a super performance. I’m so proud of him and Ricky Yiu has done an amazing job, he’s in for a great season,” McDonald said.

Speaking of Namur’s third placing, jockey William Buick said: “She ran great. She was drawn 12 which wasn’t ideal but I did the thing I had to do and she’s got a good turn of foot which she showed today. We covered a bit of ground but I think everyone will be happy with that. She bumped into a superstar.”

Hong Kong racing continues on Wednesday (13 December) at Happy Valley.

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