Trainer Francis Lui produced a magnificent Golden Sixty (AUS) for Vincent Ho to win the HK$32m, Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mike (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday, defying barrier 14 and coming to the grand final of the HKIR feature without a lead up race.
Golden Sixty and Vincent Ho, picture Liesl King
The now eight-year-old Medaglia d’Oro gelding had won the race in 2020 and 2021, placed second to California Spangle in 2022 and resumed for his final campaign to give a masterclass of galloping under Ho.
When barrier 14 was announced at the barrier draw on Thursday there was a gasp from onlookers with the thought that this was another barrier to success along with no lead-up race this season before Sunday.
Neither query mattered a jolt on Sunday. Ho carefully went back from the start and was content to run three wide following Danon The Kid (JPN) in seventh as Tribalist (FR) led the field down the back and around the turn.
With the straight laid out in front of Golden Sixty and Ho they simply left the rest of the field behind with an electric turn of foot that was evident no matter Golden Sixty’s age. They reached the front with 300m to travel and by the 200m they had 4L on the field with 5L at the 100m. Understandably the effort told over the final 50m, but the winning margin was still a decisive 1 1/2L.
Voyage Bubble (AUS) (Deep Field) and James McDonal came from the field for second and Namur (JPN) (Harbinger) and William Buick were third, the margin 1 1/4L.
The time was 1.34.10 on the Good 4 track.
The reaction of the crowd to the race, Golden Sixty’s turn of foot and then the triumphant return to scale by horse and rider lifted the rafters from the thousands lining every vantage point of the Sha Tin course. It was a fitting salute to the champion’s return.
The win was Golden Sixty’s 10th Group 1 victory taking him to elite world status to win so many at the highest level. Remarkably it was his 26th win from 30 starts along with three placings. The first prize money of HK$17,920,000 was added to his previous earnings of HK$147,930,60.
Golden Sixty, out of the Distorted Humor mare Gaudeamus, will retire after the Group 1 FWD Champions Mile at Shat Tin next April after which owner Stanley Chan Ka Leung will sent him to Japan for his next period of time.
Francis Lui, Vincent Ho, Golden Sixty